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H.G. Jones North Caroling 

Heritage Fund 


A Christian Witness 

First Presbyterian Church Gastonia, North Carolina 


History of the First 
Presbyterian Church 
Gastonia, North Carolina 

by Marion A. Ellis 

© 2005 First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia, North Carolina 
All rights reserved. 

Design and production by Julie Allred, BW&A Books, Inc., Durham, N.C. 

Printed in the United States of America by Worzalla. 

Photography by David Pegram. 

Financial support provided by the Presbyterian Endowment Trust, 2002—2005, 

and by Session, 2002-2005. 
Secretarial support by Elizabeth T. Stewart. 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2005929836 

Front endsheet: cradle roll, 2004 

First row, left to right: John Albert Rhyne, Laura Craig Smith, Nancy White 
Hunter, Helen Rhyne Marvin, William Stuart Roberts, Douglas Robinson 
Henry, Lillian Johnstone Howland, Anne King Carpenter, Rebecca Falls, 
Robert Edgar McLean Jr., Gene M. Minges, Rachel Minges Rockett 

Second row, left to right: John Craig Mason III, Mary Sue Carpenter Mason, 
Jean Marie Torrence, Sarah Adams Abernethy, Wilson Marshall LaFar, Kay 
Grigg Brown, Mary Lewis Craig Bryant, Ann Whisnant Roberts, Ruth Irene 
Cherry, Margaret Dunn Upchurch, A. Wilson Dunn Jr., Alice Ragan Wood, 
William Edward Leeper Jr., Helen Ragan Mando, Martha Barnett Beal, 
Virginia Huffstetler Zeigler, Martha Louise Kendrick 

Third row, left to right: Charlton Kennedy Torrence Jr., Daniel C. Ragan Jr., 
Walter Watt Dickson, R. Bruce Melvin, George Robert Currence, Esther 
Adams Hunnicutt, Martha Rhyne Wilson, William Danford Wilson, 
Dorothy Wilson McKenzie 

Fourth row, left to right: Ralph A. Dickson Jr., Thomas A. Stewart, Robert L. 
Adams Jr., Tom David Efird, J. Ben Morrow, John Will Parks III, Roger 
Arnold Stowe, J. Ralph Kendrick Jr., Frank McKinley Roberts, Rufus Man- 
fred Johnston III, William David Lawson III 

Not Pictured: Minor Revere Adams III, John Edgar Brison Jr., Frances Moore 
Cruse, Elizabeth Glenn Davis, Jean Kluttz Faires, Joseph Chalmer Gettys, 
Charles Armstrong Home, Henry Graydon Home Jr., Edward Earl Jackson, 
Mildred Wilson Jackson, Margaret Kempton Kelly, Paul Phifer Kincaid Jr., 
W Duke Kimbrell, Daniel Senn LaFar Jr., Rose Wilson Lawing, B. Frank 
Matthews, Fred Morris Moss Jr., Kay Kincaid Moss, Robert Turner Moss, 
James Robert Rankin Jr., Ralph Smyre Robinson Jr., Ann Reid Wyatt 

Back endsheet: Sanctuary, 2005 

>• — ' z— KJ ^> ' 


This book is dedicated to the glory of God 
and to the Christian witnesses, named and 
unnamed, who surely knew the wisdom 
of the Scripture: 

Stand at the crossroads, and look, 
and ask for the ancient paths, 
where the good way lies; and walk in it, 
and find rest for your souls. 

Jeremiah 6:16 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 

Purpose of First Presbyterian Church 2004 



It is the purpose of First Presbyterian 
Church to "present everyone mature in 
Christ" (Colossians 1:28), because God 
has called us into a relationship with Him 
and with each other through His Son, 
Jesus Christ. 

Presbyterian Theology 

Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin remain at the core of 
Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the author- 
ity of the scripture, justification by grace through faith, and the priest- 
hood of all believers. What they mean is that God is the supreme authority 
throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God's purpose for 
humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New 
Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) 
through Jesus is God's generous gift to us and not the result of our own 
accomplishments. It is everyone's job — ministers and laypeople alike — to 
share this Good News with the whole world. That is why the Presbyte- 
rian Church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, 
men and women. 

Presbyterians confess their beliefs through statements that have been 
adopted over the years and are contained in the Book of Confessions. These 
statements reflect our understanding of God and what God expects of us 

at different times in history, but all are faithful to the fundamental beliefs 
described above. Even though we share these common beliefs, Presbyte- 
rians understand that God alone is lord of the conscience, and it is up to 
each individual to understand what these principles mean in his or her 

The Presbyterian Church's denominational structure can be envisioned 
as a pyramid composed of groups of ministers and elders. The base of 
the pyramid consists of the Session, a body of ministers and ruling elders 
elected by the congregation. Sessions in turn elect commissioners to the 
Presbytery, and Presbyteries elect commissioners to the Synod and the 
General Assembly, which both consist of an equal number of ministers 
and elders. 


Preface xiii 
Introduction xv 









The Beginning I 

Early pioneer years. Long Avenue church. 188$ Cornerstone. 

Founding Fathers 17 

Marietta Street church. Early leaders. The Reverend R. P. 

Smith, pastor, i8pj—i8p6. West Avenue Presbyterian Church. 

Years of Grace 23 

Dr. J. H. Henderlite, pastor, 1912—1940. Beloved senior 
minister, revered church and community leader. Visit to 
the Holy Land. Declining health and resignation. 

A Ministry for the War Years 39 

Dr. L. M. Ellis, pastor, 1940— ip$o. "Miss Bess" Jackson, 

secretary. Local missions. Foreign missions. 

An Adventure in Faith 49 

Dr. Harry Moffett, pastor, ip$2-ip6y. Decision to relocate. 

The adventure in faith. Garrison Boulevard church. 

A Peace That Passes All Understanding 73 

Dr. Moffett's Congo mission trip. Social unrest. Human 
relations committee. 

Broadening the Vision 87 
Dr. James G. Stuart, pastor, ip68—ip8y. Goal setting. 
Covenant Village. Presbyterian Endowment Trust (PET). 
The Glenn Foundation. Drama. 

Women of the Church 107 

Early organizations. World Mission Ministry. Crisis 
Assistance Ministry. Female elders and deacons. Church 
cookbooks, ip8i, ipps. 

nine A Good Shepherd 121 

Dr. John DeBevoise, pastor, 1990— 1995. Community 
involvement. Ragan Spiritual Enrichment Fund. Faith 
and Fiction book discussion. Kirkin ' of the Tartans. 
Presbyterian Trotters. Stephen Ministry. 

ten The Church Today 137 

Dr. David Stoker, pastor, 1997- present. Vision 2000. 
Joy in the Morning service. 

eleven Scouting 149 

Boy Scouts of America. Girl Scouts of America. 

twelve Christian Education and Ministries 
of the Church 155 

Presbyterian Weekday School. Children 's ministry. 
Youth ministry. Interfaith Hospitality Network. 

thirteen Worship and Music 167 

The organ. The carillon and the renovation. The handbells. 
The choirs. Music, worship, and the Arts Series. 

fourteen Looking Forward 183 

epilogue Message from the Pastor, The Reverend Mr. I. M. 
Ellis, 1948 187 

Acknowledgments 189 

appendix Historical Timeline 193 

Members of First Presbyterian Who Have 
Become Ministers 204 

Presbyterian Church Members Who Have 
Received the Silver Beaver Award of the Boy 
Scouts of America 204 

Clerks of the Session 205 

Associate Ministers of First Presbyterian 
Church 206 

Directors of Religious/Christian Education 207 

Directors of Music 208 


Presidents of the Presbyterian Women's 
Organizations 209 

Honorary Life Memberships 211 

First Presbyterian Church War Veterans 215 

In Memoriam 219 

First Presbyterian Church Marketing 
Committee 219 

Session Roster 2005 220 

Deacon Roster 2005 220 



Eight pages of color plates fall between 
pages 166 and 16 j. 




Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud 
of witnesses. 

Hebrews 12:1 

First Presbyterian Church has such abundance: spirit, congregation, staff, 
resources, plant. Yet it has no record of the journey that has provided this 
bounty. Two endearing journals of her past have been written, History of 
First Presbyterian Church, by Hugh Query (1948), and The Presbyterian 
Church, a History, by Charles Daniel (1961). Neither is complete, and at 
some inspections both contain inaccuracies, as most historical publica- 
tions do. They, however, remain treasured pieces of our story, for they 
both capture the sense of God's work in His people since the earliest days 
of First Church. 

In the fall of 2001, the present administration acknowledged the need 
for an updated, accurate historical record. A committee was named and 
directed by Session to pursue publishing a complete history of this 
church. The committee considered in-house efforts but soon realized that 
125 years of marvelous Christian ministry deserved the recording talents 
of a professional author. Interviews followed. Funded by the Presbyterian 
Endowment Trust, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Marion Arthur 
Ellis, was asked to author an historical account of the First Presbyterian 
Church Christian community. 

It is fall 2005. Mr. Ellis has written seven drafts and spent two and a 
half years in research. He has lived among us; he has talked to us. He has 
interviewed all past living ministers and many members of past adminis- 
trations. He stood with us when the mysterious metal box containing ma- 
terial from 1895 was rediscovered after forty-one years. He has amassed a 


room brimming with yellowed pages that speak our story. He has divined 
our past. He has observed our present, and now he has satisfied, with ex- 
cellence, the charge of the Committee of History and Archives to publish 
a history of First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia, 1882-2005. 

A wonderful exponent of this book is the establishment of a room of 
history and archives, named the Heritage Room. It also has been funded 
by the Presbyterian Endowment Trust, approved by Session, and executed 
by the Committee of History and Archives, a subcommittee of the Build- 
ing and Grounds Committee. The Heritage Room opened officially on 
November 7, 2004, Kirkin' Sunday. It is the responsibility of an appointed 
committee, acting under the authority of Session, to maintain it. Only 
this dutifulness can guard the past, record the present, and insure this in- 
formation for the future. 

The Session has accepted A Christian Witness, History of First Presby- 
terian Church, and the Committee of History and Archives presents it to 
you, the congregation, and to all others who have interest in knowing the 
story of our pilgrimage from a worshipping community of twenty-two to 
a congregation of 1,315. 

The committee never intended for this publication to be the end of our 
journey, but instead the committee wished it to be the inspiration for a 
longer, richer trip in Christian witness for First Presbyterian. 

With respect for Marion Ellis, with affection for the staff and Session 
who supported this effort, and with appreciation to all who have gra- 
ciously contributed material and time to this project, the committee rec- 
ommends A Christian Witness. Read, enjoy, reflect. Especially, give thanks 
to the Lord of all that has been and all that is to come! 

Ruth McLean Brenner 


Martha Barnett Beal B. Frank Matthews II 

Ruth Mclean Brenner, chair Mary Ann Thomas Patrick 

Walter Watt Dickson Elizabeth Triplett Stewart 

A. Wilson Dunn Jr. Charlton Kennedy Torrence Jr. 
Katherine McChesney Mackie 



The far-sighted leaders who founded the First Presbyterian Church of Gas- 
tonia in 1882 were among the most prominent citizens of the community. 
Over the years the church members have continued to contribute in busi- 
ness, politics, medicine, education, and music as well as in civic, social, 
and cultural affairs. This book is only a condensation of the life and times 
of the church in the past 123 years. 

Throughout the years, First Presbyterian ministers and members have 
taken leadership roles in shaping the community, even during tough times, 
such as the civil rights era of the 1960s. Since its founding, this church has 
produced mayors, legislators, and other holders of public office, and the 
tradition continues today. It goes without saying that First Presbyterian's 
membership has always included many of the community's outstanding 
business and industrial leaders. 

Although the church has never lost its focus on Christian education 
through innovative Sunday schools and other church programs, it has led 
the way in several other areas, including various goal-setting initiatives. 
From its beginning, the church's outstanding music program has de- 
manded excellence and earned national recognition. The church has led 
the way with its educational program for preschool children. It has spon- 
sored programs in drama and art. It has fostered civic and social programs 
to assist the needy, the disadvantaged, and the helpless toward a better 
life. Its Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs have produced hundreds of 
outstanding men and women. Today's youth ministry has become one of 
the most active in the Gastonia area. In missionary work, the church has 
helped form several new local churches and chapels and historically has 
contributed to missions in foreign countries. 

By choosing a bold new architectural home in the early 1960s, the 


church made a statement about vision into the future. It sent its senior 
minister to the Congo in a time of strife to aid in restructuring the na- 
tional church there. 

The church did not rest on its laurels. It led the way in electing women 
to key positions. Many First Church members may not realize that 
through 2003 the church's Presbyterian Endowment Trust (PET), founded 
in 1977, had distributed more than $2.6 million to various worthy causes. 
And, of course, the community benefits every day from its association 
with one of the finest retirement centers in the region, Covenant Village, 
which had its beginnings at First Presbyterian Church. 

This book attempts to give the reader an idea not only of what has 
been done throughout the church's long and storied history, but also why 
and how it was accomplished. To accomplish this task I have read all the 
Session and Diaconate minutes, correspondence in the church files, and 
all the published newsletters I could find. I interviewed more than fifty 
current or former ministers, lay leaders, and others. In addition, I have 
read everything I could find on the history of the church and consulted 
numerous publications that commented on the role of the church or its 
members in the community. 

This is the third church history I have written. Those of Charlotte's 
Myers Park Baptist Church and Christ Episcopal Church were built 
around powerful senior ministers. But when I looked back on those two 
histories, published in 1995 and 1997, I realized that I had not detailed the 
ways the lay leadership had really shaped those two great churches. So 
when I agreed to write the history of First Presbyterian Church of Gas- 
tonia, I decided I would focus much more on the lay leaders. Little did I 
realize that I had chosen a nearly perfect example of a lay leader— driven 
church, one steered by laity who chose outstanding ministers and built an 
outstanding church. Most of the names of these legendary leaders are so 
familiar there is no need to list them here. As an outside observer, I re- 
mind the church that it has a rich connection and strong legacy to help it 
through many more productive years. 

This book is more than a product of my thought and work. The con- 
scientious effort — and I do mean effort — of the members of the Com- 
mittee of History and Archives has enriched this book beyond my expec- 


tations. The committee members more than matched my research and 
writing with their considerable personal knowledge and experience. They 
quickly learned to go beyond off-the-cuff observations; they took on as- 
signments to research specific areas and returned with complete reports. 
No detail was left unchallenged, and many sections were rewritten several 
times to meet the standards of accuracy and readability. 

This partnership of the professional writer with no personal relevant 
background in this church and the committee members as collaborating 
researchers, editors with heart, soul, and plenty of personal experience, has 
made this a much better book. It is unusual among church histories, and 
it sets a high standard for others to follow. 

In the beginning stages of all my books I ask for participation by key 
individuals connected with the institution, but usually I receive only to- 
ken contributions, leaving the bulk of the work to me, as the author. But 
in this church, the committee took my request to heart and dug in with 
gusto. As we went through draft after draft, I could feel the committee 
members' ownership of this history intensify. So this is truly a collabora- 
tive effort and another superlative that reflects the true nature of the First 
Presbyterian Church of Gastonia. 

Marion A. Ellis 
Charlotte, North Carolina 


Chapter One 



In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God. . . . and without him was not anything 
made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light 
of men. 

—John 1:1—4 

The first thirteen years of First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia's his- 
tory slowly unfolded as documents were pulled from a small black 
box on a large table in the church library. Wearing white cotton gloves to 
protect fragile documents, members of a waiting group were eager to get 
their hands on the documents that were yellow with age and had not been 
seen for forty years. 

One of the first things the members of the group saw on one of the 
pages from so long ago was a handwritten note from the Reverend R. P. 
Smith, the pastor who had supervised placing the capsule: "I wonder if 
these pages will ever be read again; and if so, by whom? Deposited in the 
Corner Stone of the Presbyterian Church, July 19th, 1895." 

On this August day in the year 2002, the answer to the question by 
the Reverend Smith, long passed, was being answered in the twenty-first 
century. The witnesses were members of the Committee of History and 
Archives and other representatives of the church — David Stoker, senior 
minister; Pat Morrow, church administrator; Barbara Voorhees, clerk of 

The 1895 corner- 
stone and time 
capsule after 

Session; Tom Summer, chairman of the Building and Grounds Commit- 
tee; David Pegram, church photographer; and Marion Ellis, author. They 
had gathered to attend the unsealing of the black box of sheet metal that 
had been sealed in the cornerstone of the church on Marietta Street in 
downtown Gastonia in 1895. It was later placed under the tower of the 
new church in 1962 on what became Garrison Boulevard, then a rural part 
of the city. 

One by one the collection of twenty-two items that Smith had placed 
in the tiny vault, about the size of a loaf of bread, was passed among the 
many hands. Among the first items the audience saw was a faded envelope 
for Foreign Mission collection with the legend: "A Greatly Disobeyed 
Command. 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every crea- 
ture. That whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that 
believeth not, shall be damned,' said Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15-16." 

Also in the time capsule were copies of the church's 1895 newsletters 
containing the names of all of the members. Other material included the 
July 4, 1895, edition of the weekly Gastonia Gazette and the July 9, 1895, 
edition of the daily Charlotte Observer, Presbyterian news sheets, church 
pledge cards, U.S. postage stamps, minutes of the Mecklenburg Presby- 
tery, and magazines and papers of various sorts, including a scrap of pa- 
per listing the population of Gastonia at 2,313 persons as of June 1, 1895. 


Frank Matthews examines a 
pamphlet from the capsule. 
Note the white gloves. 

Examining the capsule's contents in the church library, 2002. Left to right: Tom Sum- 
mer, Mary Ann Patrick, Trip Stewart, Kitty Mackie, Charlton Torrence Jr. 

Contents of Time Capsule 1895 

Minutes of Spring Meeting of Mecklenburg Presbytery 

Manual of the Presbytery of Mecklenburg adopted at Hopewell Church 
on April 24, 1890 

Presbyterian Sabbath School Convention held at Olney Church on July 26, 
27, and 28, 1894 

Foreign mission form 

Weekly offering form 

History of First Presbyterian Church, organized July 16, 1882, with twenty- 
two members, of which ten were in the congregation as the capsule was 

Children's Friend newspaper 

The Missionary, booklet, February 1895 

Church record for May 1894, September 1894, March 1895, June 1895 

The lesson quarterly for Sunday school and Bible classes 

"Our Fatherless Ones," pamphlet from Barium Springs, June 26, 1895 

North Carolina Presbyterian newspaper, Wilmington, North Carolina, 
Thursday, July 4, 1895 

"The Children's Missionary," pamphlet, July 1895 

By then, Gaston County had grown to include six textile mills employing 
more than one thousand workers. 

This time capsule was rediscovered by accident in the summer of 2002 
when workers were getting ready to renovate the carillon. A cornerstone 
bearing the 1895 inscription was unrecognizable at first because it had 
been covered with mortar. Tom Summer, chairman of the church's Build- 
ing and Grounds Committee, knocked off the mortar revealing the cor- 
nerstone and alerted the Building and Grounds Committee of his find. 

One of the most valuable items was a two-page history of the found- 
ing of the church. It was handwritten by Reverend Smith on Presbyterian 


Christian Observer newspaper, Louisville, KY, June 19, 1895 
Letter to Davidson College alumni, July 25, 1895 
List of the population of Gastonia on June 1, 1895: 2,313 souls 
Two-cent stamp for 1893 

Daily Charlotte Observer newspaper, July 9, 1895 
Gastonia Gazette, July 4, 1895 

Letter from the Peck-Smead Company, February 9, 1895, offering to sell heat- 
ing system to Rev. R. P. Smith for new church 
Scraps of history for R. P. Smith's posterity: 

Names of pastor's family 

Apportionments for year April 1, 1894, to April 1, 1895 

Preaching schedule 

Pledge form to build new Presbyterian Church 

Form to raise money for hiring a superintendent of home mission work 

Thank-you letter for pledges 
List of contributors to contents of box 
Long Brothers guarantee for the metal time capsule 
Tag — box made by Long Brothers 

manse stationery and dated July 10, 1895. Smith, who was pastor from 
1893 to 1896, noted that when the church was formed on July 16, 1882, it 
had twenty-two members — sixteen from Olney Presbyterian Church, four 
from Union Presbyterian Church, and two by profession of faith. The 
charter members were R. H. Adams, Mrs. M. J. Adams, R. H. Bell, Annie 
Bell, Margaret Bell, Sonora Bell, B. G. Bradley, William Bradley, Dorcas 
Bradley, Eliza Bradley, J. H. Craig, Mary Craig, J. H. Fayssoux, Jemima 
Fayssoux, J. Q. Holland, Julia Holland, R. L. Johnston, C. H. Martin, 
Mrs. John Morrow, Elvira Smith, A. M. Smyre, and Sarah A. Smyre. 
Familiar names were listed among the 219 members on the church roll 


contained in the capsule. These included early Gaston founding families: 
Adams, Alexander, Armstrong, Bradley, Costner, Craig, Dickson, Gal- 
lant, Glenn, Gray, Holland, Hunter, Jackson, Johnston, Kennedy, Love, 
McLean, Page, Pegram, Ragan, Ratchford, Rhyne, Shannon, Smith, 
Smyre, Spencer, Thompson, Warren, Williamson, Wilson, and White. 
Charlton Torrence and Martha Beal, committee members sifting through 
the material on that day, saw the names of their grandparents, Mr. and 
Mrs. Frost Torrence and Mr. G. W Ragan, with the date 1895. In addi- 
tion, there were fourteen Bradleys, eleven Adamses, and ten Glenns. 

B. G. Bradley was listed as clerk of the Session in the 1895 papers. El- 
ders were J. Q. Holland, R. C. G. Love, J. R. Shannon, and Dr. C. E. Ad- 
ams. Deacons were T. C. Pegram, chairman; John F. Love, R. T. Harper, 
G. W Ragan, Dr. E. F. Glenn, F. A. Costner, T. W. Wilson, J. Lee Rob- 
inson, J. E. Curry, and J. A. Hunter. Mrs. J. F. Love was president of the 
Ladies Missionary Society; Mrs. T. C. Pegram, vice president; Miss Emily 
Adams, secretary; and Mrs. A. M. Smyre, treasurer. 

Although men served as the elders and deacons, women were active 
and influential in the church. Nothing of any importance was done with- 
out the unofficial approval of the women of the church, usually wielding 
decisions through their husbands. 

Reverend Smith and others included in the capsule material that gave 
2002 readers a snapshot of what life must have been like in 1895 under 
President Grover Cleveland. The lead item on the front page of the Gas- 
tonia Gazette ($1.50 per annum, cash in advance) was a long, gossipy col- 
umn that recounted conversation among local ladies on vacation at the 
beach, including a story about the supposed origin of throwing rice at 
weddings. (Legend had it that rice was spread so an evil bird would eat 
it instead of attacking the bride.) Obviously, the lack of communication 
technology forced a different kind of news to fill the area newspaper. 

The newspaper noted such items as the price of cotton and the sched- 
ule of the Chester and Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad. The paper con- 
tained social notes of out-of-town visitors and folksy stories, including 
what must have been among the first jokes about lawyers. Advertisements 
for pain-relieving ointments, salves, and pills were commonplace. 


First four supply pastors, 1882-1891. Revs. W. B. Corbett, 
J. J. Kennedy, L. R. McCormick, W. E. Mcllwaine. 

The Reverend R. R Smith, who had collected and deposited the cap- 
sule in 1895, became the second full-time pastor of the First Presbyterian 
Church of Gastonia in August 1893. Reverend C. W. Robinson was the 
church's first full-time pastor, serving from April 18, 1891, to November 15, 
1892. Until then the church was supplied by ministers who split their time 
with other churches in the area. These were called supply ministers and in- 
cluded J. J. Kennedy (great-grandfather of C. K. Torrence Jr. and Jean Ma- 
rie Torrence), L. R. McCormick, and W. E. Mcllwaine. Then the Reverend 


Our first church (built in 1882) with Rev. R. P. Smith, 1893. 

Mr. Robinson was named as the first full-time pastor. Mr. Robinson was 
the uncle of Miss Elizabeth Robinson, who later became the bride of 
J. H. Matthews. She and her husband became major figures in the growth 
of First Presbyterian. Their children, Eugene, Elizabeth, Houston, and 
Frank, have continued the tradition of Presbyterian service and labor. 

The congregation had no building when the church was first organized. 
The first supply preacher, the Reverend W. B. Corbett, who was also pas- 
tor of Union and Olney Presbyterian churches, had been preaching from 
the platform of the railroad station and in the nearby Falls House Hotel. 
He held church meetings in an old storehouse, or the old Gastonia Acad- 
emy, until a small brick church was built. It was built on Long Avenue at 
a cost of $1,500 and a capacity to seat four hundred. This first church was 
dedicated on June 9, 1883. 

The heirs of Joseph Bradley had presented to the congregation the lot 
for this new church, with a small additional lot purchased from J. R. Falls 
for $50. All of the $1,500, except $100 from Mecklenburg Presbytery and 
$35 from friends in Charlotte, was promptly paid by the church's small 

Although today we refer to the Long Street Church, there was no Long 
Avenue at that time. The church sat back from the road, now Airline 
Avenue, then part of the road to Dallas. There was an avenue of elm trees 
leading from the road straight to the church, wide enough to accommo- 
date pedestrians, carriages, and buggies. The area behind the church was 
used for hitching horses and mules that pulled the buggies. The bell used 
then was still in use in 1948 in the Third Street Presbyterian Church in 

Miss Stella Holland, daughter of Captain and Mrs. J. Q. Holland, was 
organist at the time of her marriage to S. N. Boyce. The marriage was 
timed so they might hurry from the church to the Southern depot, a few 
hundred yards away, to catch a southbound train. The train was an hour 
late, and an impromptu reception was held at the Falls House. 

This church was in a thriving community of other churches and prom- 
inent homes located in a neighborhood adjoining busy Airline Avenue. 

In the years when First Church was served by supply preachers, Gas- 
tonia was an infant town. With a population of fewer than three hun- 


dred, it had little industry, but that was soon to change. The Chester and 
Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad ran north and south. It intersected the 
Atlanta and Charlotte Airline Railroad, which ran east and west. The At- 
lanta and Charlotte Airline began stopping in Gastonia in 1873, establish- 
ing Gastonia as a crossroad of transportation. This brought a huge indus- 
trial opportunity to the city. 

The presence of the railroads not only brought industry but, in 1909, also 
made Gastonia the seat of county government. This was largely because 
citizens of Dallas, the previous county seat, decided they did not want the 
distractions of a railroad spoiling their pristine surroundings, a posture 
that won aesthetic advantage but wrought economic deterioration. 

Gaston County's textile industry was in its infancy. Most of the mills 
were along the South Fork River or its tributaries east of the city. The 
South Fork supplied the waterpower that drove the mills before the corn- 

Manse of the church, corner of Marietta Street and Franklin Avenue, circa 1910. 


ing of electricity. When electric generators became available, industry 

The Baptist and Methodist congregations already had church build- 
ings in downtown Gastonia when First Presbyterian built its small church 
on what was later Long Avenue. The Presbyterian laymen were among 
the town's most successful and respected citizens. Charter member J. H. 
Fayssoux, the Gastonia agent for the Chester and Lenoir Narrow Gauge 
Railroad, was mayor of Gastonia in 1882. Elders R. L. Johnston and A. M. 
Smyre were two of the town's six commissioners. Having strong com- 
munity leaders as strong church leaders brought the church growth and 

By the time the Reverend R. P. Smith arrived in 1893, lay leadership 
had decided that it was time for First Presbyterian to build a new meet- 
ing place. The church leaders planned a grand edifice, one that would seat 
one thousand people, instead of four hundred. It would be built of red 
brick, sandstone, and slate on South Marietta Street, in the heart of town, 
with a tower more than no feet tall. Architect Charles Wilson of Roa- 
noke, Virginia, was engaged to design the new building. With its accom- 
panying manse, built in 1905, it would cost $19,884, all of which would be 
raised by pledges alone. It would be a truly grand church structure. 

The congregation had voted to pay for the construction without any 
fund-raising fairs, suppers, or festivals while also keeping up all pledges 
to the benevolent causes it had decided to support. Missions historically 
never suffered because of operational needs of the church. 

It was a hefty order in 1894, only a year after the Panic of 1893 had 
sapped energy from the economy. It required strong lay leadership, which 
included several prominent business owners, as well as determined and 
dedicated clerical guidance. A committee of nine was named to study 
whether a new church was needed and, if so, where it should be located. 
Its members were A. C. Williamson, S. E. McArthur, T. C. Pegram, J. R. 
Shannon, A. M. Smyre, E. N. Lineberger, J. F. Love, J. B. Beal, and G. W 

As the study continued, the congregation found a very capable pastor 
in the Reverend Robert Perry Smith. He was forty-two years old when 
he assumed the Gastonia pastorate at a salary of $700 per year, which in- 


eluded use of the manse. Smith was an educator as well as a preacher. A 
native of Spartanburg County, South Carolina, he had been an outstand- 
ing student at Davidson College, winning the top debating medal. Af- 
ter graduating in 1873, he attended Columbia Theological Seminary in 
Decatur, Georgia, where he received a degree in theology. He then be- 
came president of Reidsville Female Seminary near Spartanburg, where 
he stayed for ten years and married Ella Reid, the only daughter of the 
founder of the Reidsville Seminary. In 1885, at age thirty-four, he became 
the first president of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. 
After three years in that post, he resigned to lead a church in Bullocks 
Creek, South Carolina, and then one in Blackstock, South Carolina, be- 
fore moving to Gastonia in 1893. 

Educated and informed, Smith believed in living his role as a minister 
in every way. At breakfast, he insisted upon quiet among his three chil- 
dren and had each read a Bible verse before the family sang a hymn. He 
took his job very seriously and soon captured the respect of his growing 
congregation in Gastonia. When the idea of a new building was proposed, 
it was Smith's suggestion that no benevolences should suffer while fund- 
raising for the new building went forward. Another idea of his was to have 
Sunday school children raise money for the new building by each buying 
a brick. Today, the church Heritage Room has one of those bricks. 

Smith discouraged talking or chewing gum while in worship because 
he said it disturbed others. He abhorred drinking and gambling and 
counseled young men against such vices. "He had no patience with lazi- 
ness nor falsehoods," Smith's daughter wrote in Blended Blessings, a trib- 
ute to Smith and his wife published in 1946, ten years after Smith's death. 
But Smith's daughter reported that the Smiths also had a sense of humor 
and enjoyed playing little tricks on each other. For instance, Smith once 
got a laugh from his wife's frustration over continuing to receive in the 
mail advertisements for cures of "fits." 

According to his daughter's book, Smith was a true descendant of the 
Scottish Presbyterians, since his clan name in Scotland had originally been 
McGowan. Believing it was necessary to avoid possible religious persecu- 
tion, even in America, one of his forebears had given the family name 
Smith to immigration authorities upon his arrival. 


Second four pastors, 1893— 1911. Revs. C. W. Robinson, 
R. P. Smith, M. McG. Shields, R. C. Anderson. 

Smith stayed three years at First Church in Gastonia before moving 
to Asheville, North Carolina, where he became superintendent of Home 
Missions for the Asheville Presbytery and founder of the Mountain Or- 
phanage in Balfour, North Carolina. Smith did get to fulfill a lifelong 
dream by taking a trip to Rome before he died in 1936 at the age of eighty- 
four. At the end of his illustrious life, his last words were, "Now it is time 
to pray." As a measure of respect, authorities laid his body in state at the 
First Presbyterian Church in Asheville. 

After Smith left the First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia pastorate 



in 1896, he was succeeded by the Reverend Malcolm McG. Shields, who 
served until October 1904. A number of interim pastors followed. The 
Reverend Robert Campbell Anderson was called in July 1905. Anderson, 
who often rode his horse, Victor, through the unpaved streets and tied 
him to the stone hitching post in front of the manse, served six years. He 
resigned in September 1911 to become head of the Mountain Retreat As- 

The "elite" of Gastonia circa 1895. Front row: J. H. Kennedy, J. Lee Robinson. Second 
row: James Gallant, unknown, Chief of Police I. N. Alexander, George W. Ragan. 
Back row: J. E. Curry, Judge William H. Lewis, Ed Wilson, unknown. 


sociation of the Southern Presbyterian Assembly grounds at Montreat, a 
post he held for thirty-six years. As a tribute, Montreat-Anderson College 
bears his name. 

By Anderson's resignation in 1911, First Church of Gastonia had grown 
to 644 members with an annual budget of $8,242.78. Succeeding Ander- 
son was a man who became one of First Church's most beloved senior 
ministers, the Reverend Dr. James Henry Henderlite. He accepted the call 
in December 1912. He was to stay for the next twenty-seven years. 

Smith, Shields, Anderson, and all the other ministers and lay lead- 
ers during the early days of First Church's existence in Gastonia took 
their obligation as moral pacesetters for the church beyond the advice 
and counsel stage. This responsibility meant that both lay leaders and the 
minister often took it upon themselves to enforce standards of behavior 
they felt should be upheld by church members. 

Like many other churches of the times, the Gastonia church followed 
the Book of Church Order requirement that all deliberations of Session 
meetings be kept secret. (Now Session records are open.) The Session often 
acted as judge and jury and cited congregants for violations that included 
bootlegging, adultery, dancing, fighting, fornication, gambling, swearing, 
and consistent absence from worship. 

The elders appointed a committee of one or two to investigate com- 
plaints of non-church behavior, and the committee would report to the 
Session. On many occasions the Session would ask the accused party or 
parties to appear before the Session to explain. Usually the accused con- 
fessed and promised to reform; but if found guilty by the elders, the ac- 
cused could be suspended or, in the most drastic cases, their names could 
be read aloud from the pulpit. They would be "unchurched," or stricken 
from the church roll. 

These results could have serious consequences in a small town where a 
man's or woman's reputation might determine whether he or she succeeded 
in business or was ruined. The names of the accused are clearly spelled out 
in those old minutes. No good purpose would be accomplished by expos- 
ing them publicly, even at this late date. However, some examples might 
help today's church members reflect on those harsh, bygone days. From the 
1885 Session minutes: "[Two members] made acknowledgments to the Ses- 


sion that they had done wrong in dancing and promised to use all endeav- 
ors to not give way to the temptation again." From the 1888 Session min- 
utes: "A. M. Smyre and J. B. Holland were an appointed committee to see 
[the member] about using intoxicating drinks. The committee conferred 
with [the member]. He confessed to his fault and promised not to do so 
any more, asked the Session to pray for help to overcome his weakness, the 
committee reported, and [this member's] request was granted." 

Some of the offenses and results were bizarre, even by nineteenth- 
century standards. According to the 1892 minutes, after three members 
acknowledged they had been fighting in public and had allowed their 
workmen to break the Fourth Commandment (taking the Lord's name in 
vain), the Session judgment was that "the acknowledgments of the three 
brethren as well as all offenses after this should be read out by Pastor at 
public service." 

Although the minutes reflect a diminishing number of similar secret 
judgments, the Session continued to hand out discipline for the next 
thirty years. The last one noted was dated January 1943, when a congre- 
gant was suspended indefinitely from the church rolls after admitting to 

By then the church had grown to a membership of more than one 
thousand with a budget of $30,000. 

Gracious God, who has come to us in Jesus Christ, we thank you 
for your abiding presence. Your Banner for us is Love, and your 
Will for us is Peace. You have kept faith with us in times past and 
we trust you will continue with us in the times that lie ahead. 

— From a morning prayer by the Reverend Dr. James G. 
Stuart, senior minister, 1969— 198J 


Chapter Two 

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that 
build it. 

-—Psalm nj:i 

First Church of Gastonia enjoyed an early succession of strong minis- 
ters and a meteoric rise in membership, but neither would have been 
possible without far-sighted and influential lay leaders who had chosen to 
make their homes in the city that called itself "the Combed-Yarn Spin- 
ning Capital" of the world. That legacy of lay leadership has remained 
throughout the long history of the church. Although the church is wel- 
coming and encourages new membership, a visitor today can often hear 
someone being described as the grandson or the granddaughter of a 
founder. The church's early families remain active today. 

First Church and Gastonia grew up together, and some of the church's 
early members were among the city's most successful business owners, 
doctors, dentists, educators, and lawyers. Many city, county, and state 
political leaders came from within the ranks of First Church's members, 
including J. H. Fayssoux, the mayor in 1882, the year the church was 
founded. That tradition has continued through the years, with members 
serving as mayors, city council members, city managers, Gaston County 
commissioners, and state legislators. 

The building of First Church's grand religious structure in 1895 could 
not have been possible without members who had the personal resources 


to support it. After all, there were only 236 members at the time, and they 
were building a church to hold one thousand members. Their building 
cost nearly $20,000, an enormous sum for the times. A large bronze bell 
for the steeple was forged in a South Carolina foundry and survives to- 
day as the toll bell of the Memorial Carillon of the Garrison Boulevard 

Over the years a few lay leaders often have acted as anonymous do- 
nors to help the church over financial difficulties, contributing to special 
projects and scholarships. As recently as 1990, such donors underwrote 
the cost of hiring an outside consultant to conduct a study of the church 
administratively and physically. They also have enabled young people to 
further their Christian education and have contributed the special funds 
for the establishment of the Heritage Room at the church and many other 

The Building and Subscription Committee that was selected for the 
new building in 1895 was perhaps the best example of how the lay lead- 
ership operated. It was composed of six powerful men, each a leader in 
business and community affairs. The chairman, George Washington Ra- 
gan, was a successful manufacturer and one of the founders of Gastonia's 
first textile mill in 1887 and its second in 1893. He founded the city's first 
bank in 1890. He was the grandfather of members John C. Mason III, the 
late Mary Elizabeth Torrence, Martha Barnett Beal, James Taylor Jr., and 
Alice Taylor Arkin. 

Other committee members who were prominent business owners were 
R. C. G. Love, his son, John F. Love, who was church treasurer, Frank A. 
Costner, and Eli N. Lineberger. The last committee member, Dr. Charles 
E. Adams, was one of the town's few physicians and druggists and grand- 
father to Robert L. Adams Jr. and the late Dr. Simeon H. Adams. 

The son of a farmer, G. W. Ragan had established a popular mercan- 
tile company in downtown Gastonia and had expanded his business inter- 
ests into cotton manufacturing, banking, and real estate. Born on a farm 
in the South Point area of Gaston County, Ragan had enlisted at age sev- 
enteen in the Confederate Army and fought in the Battle of Bentonville 
in eastern North Carolina. After the war, he ran the family farm before 
starting his G. W. Ragan and Company store at South Point and then 


Session, 1898. Top row: J. E. Page; J. Q. Holland, clerk. Middle row: J. R. Shannon; 
Rev. M. M. Shields, pastor; B. G. Bradley. Bottom row: C. E. Adams, A. M. Smyre. 

adding stores at Lowell, McAdenville, and finally in Gastonia in 1886. He 
was a shrewd buyer and accumulated stock on his trips to Baltimore and 
New York City. 

R. C. G. Love also had served in the Confederate Army before return- 
ing to his home in the Crowders Creek section of Gaston County. He 
married the daughter of a Mount Holly merchant and also entered the 
mercantile business in Gastonia. Love was the great-grandfather of Louise 
Love Keir, a fourth-generation First Church member. In 1887, Love pro- 
moted the first Gastonia textile mill and was its largest stockholder. John 
Franklin Love was one of his three sons, who, along with George Gray, 
later promoted the giant Loray Mill. The so-called million-dollar mill's 



1 *. . •• 

BM I ~ 

Board of Deacons, 1898. Top row: R. T. Harper; J. F. Love, treasurer; E. F. Glenn, 
chairman; G. W. Ragan, secretary; J. A. Hunter. Bottom row: F. A. Costner, T. W. 
Wilson, J. Lee Robinson, J. E. Curry, T. C. Pegram. 

name was a combination of the first two letters of Love — LO — and the 
last three of Gray — RAY— to spell Loray. This mill was the largest textile 
mill under one roof in the world. John F. Love's significant contributions 
and unselfish service to the church and community continued. 

As two of the city's leading businessmen, John Love and George Ragan 
often challenged each other to match contributions in church, civic, and 
community matters. Both held many posts in the city, and Ragan later 
was elected mayor. 

Some of the funds for the new Marietta Street church in 1895 came 
from contributions for memorial stained-glass windows. Installed on three 
sides of the sanctuary, the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows memorialized 
William A. Love (1872— 1890) and Susie Love (1883-1884), children of Mr. 
and Mrs. R. C. G. Love; Dr. Robert H. Adams (1854-1888); Mrs. Amanda 
Zoe Ragan (1862-1891), first wife of George W. Ragan; Robert A. Wil- 


liamson (1887-1891), son of Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Williamson; and Harry 
E. Gallant (1854-1888), son of Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Gallant. Today one of 
the windows is in three sections in a small chapel in the historic Dallas 
Park near Gaston College. Four more memorial windows are owned by 
two First Presbyterian Church families. 

Mrs. James Robinson, the former Nancy Dean McLean, of Wilming- 
ton, North Carolina, donated another architectural treasure to the Heri- 
tage Room. She gave the Italian carved capital from one of the five col- 
umns that supported the balcony of the Marietta Street church. It is now 
on display in the Heritage Room. 

Ragan's wise counsel in the affairs of the church extended over half a 
century, lasting almost until his death in 1936 at the age of eighty-nine. 
When John F. Love moved to Charlotte in 1911, Ragan purchased the 
Love home and its grounds, which adjoined the church property on Mar- 
ietta Street. He donated a portion of the property to First Church, and 
eventually the property held a building used by the Boy Scouts. 

Because of Ragan's success as chairman of the 1895 building cam- 
paign, he was asked again in 1907 to lead the building committee for 
West Avenue Presbyterian Church, the first daughter church established 
by First Church. In 1911, Armstrong Memorial Church was established as 
the second daughter church of First Church. (The Reverend R. Manfred 
Johnston IV is the current interim minister there.) When the building was 
completed, the family of Col. C. B. Armstrong and his business associate, 
A. K. Winget, requested that they be allowed to assume the remaining 
debt of the building as a memorial to Armstrong. A. K. Winget's grand- 
son, Knox Winget III, serves as a ruling elder today at First Church. 

Elected to the Session in 1902, Ragan also was a leader in the Men's 
Bible Class and was often selected to represent the church at Presbytery 
and Synod meetings. His sons, George W Ragan Jr. and Caldwell Ragan, 
continued their father's legacy of service. 

Of course, Ragan, Love, and the other members of that early build- 
ing committee were not the only outstanding and dedicated lay leaders 
of the late 1800s and early to mid-i900s. Others included Alfred Mon- 
roe Smyre, James Quinn Holland, J. Lee Robinson, James Holland Ken- 
nedy, Dr. Enos Franklin Glenn, and John Frank Jackson. Names such as 


Adams, Akers, Armstrong, Barnett, Craig, Dickson, Dunn, Efird, Falls, 
Garrison, Garland, Henry, Jones, Keith, LaFar, Kimbrell, Loftin, Mackie, 
Matthews, McLean, Patrick, Rankin, Ray, Stewart, Summerell, Taylor, 
Timberlake, Torrence, Watson, Wetzell, Winget, and Zeigler would also 
become prominent in the later life of the church in the twentieth and 
twenty-first centuries. 

O God, who weaves your providential purposes through all the 
changing circumstances of our lives and who works through the 
dedicated efforts of faithful men and women across the years, 
come now in our generation to renew your church. . . . 

In the Name of Him who is Lord of the Church, even 
Jesus Christ. Amen. 

— From a prayer of the people, by the Reverend Dr. Douglas 
Aldrich, interim pastor of congregational care, 2002—200$ 


Chapter Three 



Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the un- 
godly. . . . he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, 
that bringeth forth its fruit in its season. 

—Psalm 1:1, 3 

In photographs, the Reverend Dr. James Henderlite appears tall, thin, 
and stiff-backed, with just a hint of a smile under a neatly trimmed 
moustache. But photographs do not convey the good judgment, thought- 
fulness, kindness, and high degree of caring for others that made him a 
most beloved senior minister of First Presbyterian Church for more than 
twenty-seven years. 

He was so revered that over the years his congregation gave him five 
new cars, including the first new Chevrolet in Gastonia, and a lifetime 
pension upon his retirement. Coming to the church at a time when the 
community was booming, Dr. Henderlite quickly assumed a major lead- 
ership role in both church and community. A tireless worker for both, he 
set the tone for the growth of First Church and defined its mission, giving 
it a new standard and a new legacy that demanded excellence, diligence, 
and reverence. Dr. Henderlite 's strict Presbyterianism is evident today in 
the natural tension between traditionalists and innovators. 

After the Reverend R. C. Anderson left First Church in September 
1911, the church had encountered some difficulty in finding a replacement. 


Dr. James H. Henderlite, pastor, 1912— 1940. 

Four ministers, the Reverend Dr. H. W. Burwell, the Reverend Mr. E. E. 
Gillespie, the Reverend Dr. C. M. Richards, and the Reverend Dr. J. H. 
Lacy, declined invitations to come before Dr. Henderlite accepted the 

Two members of the pulpit committee, Arthur C. Jones and John 
Frank Jackson, traveled to Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the fall of 1912 
to hear Dr. Henderlite preach and lead a men's Bible class. They were 
impressed and recommended that he preach at the church in Gastonia. 
(The practice of asking ministerial candidates to preach before the home 
congregation was a standard custom before extending the actual call of a 
new senior minister.) After he preached in Gastonia, the pulpit commit- 
tee asked if he would accept the call, if offered. Dr. Henderlite replied, 


"There is only one thing I am afraid of, and that is that I am not big 
enough for the job." 

At the time, the church had 644 members and a budget of $8,242.78. 
The church was able to offer Dr. Henderlite a salary of $1,500 a year, plus 
a home in the manse. 

A native of Smythe County, Virginia, deep in the Blue Ridge Moun- 
tains, Dr. Henderlite was forty years old at the time of the call to Gas- 
tonia. He and his wife, Nelle, had three small children, Virginia, Rachel, 
and James Jr. A graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, Henderlite also 
held degrees from Columbia and Louisville Presbyterian seminaries. He 
had been ordained in 1897 and served five years at pastorates in Accomac, 
Virginia, then five years at Henderson, North Carolina, and finally five 
years at Fredericksburg. 

By all accounts, Dr. Henderlite was the quintessential Presbyterian 
minister. Well-educated and informed, he delivered thoughtful sermons 
that embodied what many felt was the word of God. One of four broth- 
ers, all of whom were ministers, he was a constant visitor in the homes of 
his parishioners and during their hospital stays. His responsiveness did 
not end there. He also believed in service to community. He immedi- 
ately immersed himself in Gastonia civic affairs. Over the years he was in- 
volved in every major civic, charitable, or community effort. 

When he first came to Gastonia, Dr. Henderlite "wore a short, tight- 
fitting coat and a collar which buttoned in the back, much on the order 
of the sort worn by the brethren of the Episcopal faith," Hugh Query 
wrote in his 1948 history of the church. Dr. Henderlite soon opted for a 
long-tailed frock coat with a wing collar and striped morning pants. Some 
church members remember having seen him in a white suit for Sunday 
services. In the early days, he sometimes made home visits on a bicycle. 
Robert L. Adams Jr., a current member, recalls one of those visits. His 
mother, Mrs. R. L. Adams Sr., hosted weekly bridge games with Mrs. Ed 
Adams, Mrs. Joe Wray, and Mrs. Hugh Query. Dr. Henderlite made an 
unannounced visit one afternoon during one of their games. Since card 
playing was not seen as an acceptable pastime in those days, the hostess 
was a long time recovering from her embarrassment. 

Under Dr. Henderlite's direction, the church entered a boom time, co- 
years OF GRACE 25 

Men of the church on Marietta Street, circa 1916. 

inciding with the boom that Gastonia had begun to experience as the 
combed-yarn capital of the world. Within a few short years, the church 
membership climbed to 1,200 and Gaston County's textile mill employ- 
ment grew. In the custom of the day, the Henderlites were allowed to pur- 
chase stock in some of the mills. 

By 1917, Dr. Henderlite's salary had been raised to $2,400 per year, and 
by 1918, the church employed the Reverend George R. Gillespie of Ver- 
sailles, Kentucky, as an assistant minister at $1,500 a year. Dr. Gillespie 
threw himself into his new job with much zeal. First Church installed 
him also as the first minister of the Armstrong Memorial Church, which 
had been organized seven years earlier on South Broad Street under the 
sponsorship of First Church. It was dedicated formally in 1921. 

By 1919, Dr. Henderlite was able to write in the annual report to the 



Women of rhe church on Marietta Street, circa 1916. 

Church attendance has been very good at the morning services, only 
fairly good at night and poor at prayer meetings. There does not seem 
to be flagrant desecration of the Sabbath. The training of children 
in the homes in scripture and catechism is probably not general. 
This is right faithful, however, in Sabbath schools. The people show 
an increasing fidelity in worshipping God with substance and in 
supporting and extending the Gospel. The pastor's salary is $3,000. 
It is fully paid. This year has been one of increasing interest and 
organization. The church conducts four mission schools and also 
employs a congregational missionary who labors at various points in 
the town. We are not doing as much as we should perhaps. 

Early in his tenure the church added a Sunday school annex, with 
classrooms opening off the sanctuary. Seven years later, a two-story Sun- 
day school building with basement was constructed. The "Hut," designed 
for a pastor's study and offices for his secretary, assistant, other staff mem- 
bers, and youth, was built in the early 1920s. In 1923, Boy Scout Troop 11 



was started under Dr. Henderlite's pastorate, and as the program grew, a 
Scout hut was built on adjoining property, donated by George W. Ragan. 
Troop us first Scoutmaster was S. Wilkes Dendy, assistant to Dr. Hen- 
derlite and the first director of young people's work. 

Many improvements were made to the church plant, including a re- 
modeling and renovation of the manse, the building of a garage to replace 
the barn that had served the former pastor, Dr. Anderson, and the mod- 
ernization of the church kitchen. Several pianos for the Sunday school 
were purchased, as well as silver and china for the church dining room. A 
fine Kimball pipe organ was installed, the generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Thomas L. Craig. 

The heart of Gastonia's business district, circa 1920. 


Men of the church on Marietta Street, circa 1922. 

Miss Ola Moton was a beloved town missionary. Sabbath schools were 
taught by devoted ladies in the church. Miss Hattie Stowe and Mrs. Ed 
Adams taught catechisms. Miss Stowe arranged her first-grade class at 
Central School to include Presbyterian children. If they didn't learn the 
catechism on Sunday, she taught it to them on public school time. 

Progress continued over the years. By 1921, the annual report reflected 
1,211 members and a budget of $55,076 when the Sunday school build- 
ing had to be constructed to accommodate religious education. By 1926, 
the budget had grown to $59,321 and Dr. Henderlite's salary had been 
increased to $5,000. He had been at the church for thirteen years, and 
many of the members of the congregation felt it was time he be awarded 
a sabbatical. 

Dr. Henderlite had often talked about wanting to visit the Holy Land. 
A few key congregants contributed $2,100 (raised largely through the gen- 
erosity of J. Lee Robinson) to cover Dr. Henderlite's expenses on a four- 
teen-week trip to the Holy Land, which included a number of destina- 
tions in England, Europe, and the Mediterranean. 

The Monday, May 17, 1926, edition of the Gastonia Gazette carried a 
story with the headline: "Farewell Service at Presbyterian Church." Be- 
fore his sermon on the previous Sunday night, Dr. Henderlite "expressed 
his genuine appreciation of the generous spirit of the congregation, which 



had enabled him to realize this ambition of his life." To emphasize this 
point, his sermon was titled "The Good Shepherd," based on John 10:14, 
the parable of the shepherd making sure that not one sheep would be 

Dr. Henderlite left New York for England the following Saturday, May 
22, on the cruise ship Leviathan. He sailed among more than 2,500 pas- 
sengers. He had told First Church member Hugh Query, editor of the 
Gastonia Gazette, that he would mail home reports Query could publish 
if he so desired. 

The editor was delighted to receive the first report, dated June 2, from 
London and was especially delighted when Dr. Henderlite continued his 
travelogues over the next two months. In all Henderlite mailed twenty- 
one reports, each more than two thousand words long, a total of more 
than forty thousand words. These articles are thought to have been col- 
lected and published in a booklet, but apparently the booklet did not sur- 
vive. The handwritten articles are archived in the Heritage Room, along 
with letters to Mrs. Henderlite, and the printed articles are on microfilm 
of the Gaston Gazette at the Gaston County Public Library. Each article 
included fascinating descriptions of people and places that Dr. Henderlite 
encountered. Good history lessons laced with political and social com- 
mentary, they were delightfully humorous, especially considering that they 
were written by a Presbyterian minister who was quite reserved. 

Dr. Henderlite's messages from Europe give us a rare glimpse of the 
kind of person he was. It is obvious from reading his reports that he was 
not only a minister, but also a scholar. Before he approached a famous 
historic site, he conducted thorough research. His letters home instruct 
the reader in history, religion, anthropology, archeology, and geography. 
Reading them is better than reading a history book, because Dr. Hender- 
lite spiced his reports with quips and quotes. His style was breezy, not 
stiff. We can only imagine the readers back home, both Gazette subscrib- 
ers and First Church parishioners, eagerly awaiting the next letter from 

Since there are no known recordings of Dr. Henderlite's sermons, 
prayers, or talks, his reports from abroad give us an insight into his per- 


sonality and approach to life. Only highlights of his trip are included 

In the first report, Dr. Henderlite told of visiting England and being 
intrigued by the old churches and cathedrals that held much historical in- 
terest. He wrote that many of them dated from about the middle of the 
eleventh century, when the Normans invaded England. From Edinburgh, 
he described the picturesque beauty of the Scottish countryside. He rev- 
eled at being in the heart of Presbyterianism. 

His reports from Paris easily captured Dr. Henderlite's sense of won- 
derment. He started his letters from there with a long description of some 
of the contents of the Louvre, noting that it covered forty-five acres and 
contained the largest and finest collection of paintings and statuary in the 
world. He quickly learned to love the outdoor cafes and fine food, but 
he made fun of his inability to be understood. "The people in general 
here cannot understand their own language when they hear it spoken," he 

Over and over again I have had this experience with them myself. 
In my polished and faultless French I have asked some simple 
question or commented on some familiar every day matter that 
even the children should be acquainted with only to be met with 
polite but hopeless inability to understand what I am talking about. 
This is true practically everywhere I go and among all classes of 
people — shopkeepers, waiters, policemen, taxi drivers, hotel clerks 
and passing pedestrians. They are very courteous about it, being 
French, and are probably no little embarrassed by their ignorance. 
I hope that maybe some good will come of my visit, and that the 
government of France realizing that something is sadly wrong 
with the present system of education will take early steps toward 
remedying the situation. A rather surprising feature of this, it may 
be said, is the fact that I find my English is really better understood 
in Paris than my French. One would naturally think they would 
learn their own language first. Just as a sample, by the way, of how 
they fail to recognize their own tongue, I ordered poached eggs, 


toast and coffee the other day, speaking in the most finished and 
careful manner, just as it is in the books on "How to master French 
in three days," and the very bright and attractive waitress brought 
me a plate of soup and a newspaper. 

Dr. Henderlite also had a wonderful time visiting the treasures and won- 
ders of Versailles and Fontainebleau. 

In Rome Dr. Henderlite found several items that heightened his de- 
sire to visit the Holy Land. He visited the Scala Santa, or the Holy Stairs, 
which were supposedly taken from Jerusalem and were reported to be the 
very steps that Jesus went up to enter the judgment hall of Pilate. He also 
visited the prison where Paul was supposedly kept before his death and 
the tomb where Peter was said to be buried. He spent many hours at St. 
Peter's Basilica, marveling over the many treasures there. 

After a visit to Naples, Dr. Henderlite boarded the USS California for 
a trip across the Mediterranean Sea through the Greek Isles to Constan- 
tinople (now Istanbul), Turkey. Then, by rail and automobile, he went 
on to Damascus, Syria, and to Beirut, Lebanon. He would take a guided 
tour by automobile to the Holy Land. 

In the September 6, 1926, edition of the Gastonia Gazette, readers re- 
ceived Dr. Henderlite's first report from the Holy Land. Written on Au- 
gust 9 from Jerusalem, the article sparkles with his excitement at finally 
reaching his long-awaited destination. 

The trip to Galilee, he wrote, 

was a most memorable experience by reason of the beauty and 
grandeur of much of the scenery, the picturesqueness of the country 
with its shepherds and flocks of sheep and long eared black goats, 
its Bedouin Arabs and their camps, its camel trains and donkeys . . . 
its occasional wide stretching fields of green Egyptian corn or its 
harvest wheat fields in which an occasional woman would be seen, 
like Ruth of old, gleaning the scant wheat stalks that had escaped 
the sickles of the harvesters. 

After seeing where the River Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee, Dr. 
Henderlite had lunch at Tiberius and then went on to Cana. "Nazareth 


was, of course, one of the outstanding places in our itinerary, the boyhood 
home of Jesus," he continued. 

It is the best town in Galilee, which is not saying a great deal for 
it. It is a fair sized town, but very dirty and full of poverty and 
squalor. There we saw one of the places where genuineness is hardly 
questioned, "Mary's Well." You can almost count on your fingers 
the places in Palestine mentioned in the Bible that can be definitely 
identified today. But all seem agreed that this is the very well from 
which Mary as a young maiden and later as wife and mother used to 
carry water for the needs of the household. We saw the women filling 
their jars with water, or standing about chattering and gossiping, or 
leaving the well, which is really a spring, with the heavy jars balanced 
on their heads, just as Mary did, no doubt, 1900 years ago. 

From Nazareth, Dr. Henderlite journeyed to Jacob's well. "To no 
place in Palestine had I looked forward more eagerly than to the well of 
Jacob," he wrote. "It is another of the famous Bible spots whose genu- 
ineness is unquestioned." Dr. Henderlite drank of the water and found 
it "excellent, clear and cold," and as he drank he wrote that he thought 
of the "thousands of various creeds and bloods" who had drunk from it 
since Jesus. 

He told of visiting the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount 
of Olives and of a short rowboat ride on the River Jordan. Presumably the 
water he brought back to Gastonia, which he used to baptize infants in 
First Church for years, was from the River Jordan. 

Continuing with his Holy Land report, Dr. Henderlite showed his 
sense of humor: "On the way to Jerusalem we passed the Inn of the Good 
Samaritan. The Good Samaritan took the wounded man to this inn and 
gave the host two pence to pay his hotel bill. After we had looked at the 
inn we decided that, as is said to be usual with hotel keepers, this one had 
over charged the Samaritan." 

His last Holy Land trip report told of his visit to Bethlehem and then 
on to Egypt for his first camel ride, which he managed without any prob- 
lems. He closed his reports: 


And will I be glad to get back home? If anyone asks you, do not 
hesitate to answer yes. It has been a truly wonderful trip from start 
to finish and I have enjoyed it beyond the power of expression. But 
mid pleasures and palaces there is no place like home: and of all the 
many interesting countries I have seen, there is none I would swap 
for the good old United States. These other lands are fine to visit, 
provided you don't have to stay too long in some of them. They can 
interest and amuse you and often they can teach you a great deal, 
for there are some things we can learn from them and be none the 
worse. But I am glad I am an American, and when it comes to living 
day by day, year in and year out, there is no place in the world like 
the United States. 

Dr. Henderlite returned home on the Leviathan along with General 
John J. Pershing and 2,578 others, then a record number of civilian pas- 
sengers at one time on any cruise ship. He was renewed and refreshed. 
The church continued to grow. 

Dr. Henderlite's pastorate was full of service to his congregation, the 
people of his community, and to the Presbytery, Synod, and General As- 
sembly. He became president of the Gastonia Rotary Club, chairman of 
the board of Garrison General Hospital, a high-ranking member of the 
Masonic Lodge, and a member of the Inter-racial Council in Gastonia. 
He was a major figure in the Chamber of Commerce, the Red Cross, 
the Salvation Army, the public library, and the Christmas Seal Commit- 
tee. He served on the boards of trustees at Presbyterian Junior College 
in Maxton, Montreat College, Queens College in Charlotte, and Union 
Theological Seminary in Richmond. He was a member of the Commit- 
tee of Forty-four, a policy-making organization of laymen and ministers 
of the Southern Presbyterian Church. He served on the General Assem- 
bly's Stewardship Committee and the Christian Education Board. He was 
moderator of the Synod of North Carolina in 1923 and served as a com- 
missioner to General Assembly many times. Davidson College conferred 
upon him a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1918. Dr. Henderlite was one of 
the few Gastonians to be listed at that time in Who's Who in America. 

But the good times were not to last. The church was hit hard by the 


First Presbyterian Church on Marietta Street, pen and ink rendering circa 1930. 

Great Depression that began in October 1929, and the congregation had 
difficulty meeting the budget. At his request, in 1931, Dr. Henderlite's sal- 
ary was reduced to $5,000 — the 1926 level — and the church trimmed the 
budget to $37,622. In 1934, his salary was $4,000 and the church budget 
fell below $20,000. 

By January 1938, the nation had begun to prosper again, and Dr. Hen- 
derlite was honored in a special ceremony on his twenty-fifth anniversary 
as minister of First Church. "You have been mighty good to me," he told 
his congregation. "These twenty-five years have been the happiest of my 
life. There have been no discord, no factions, no differences, no splits or 
quarrels in the church in this time. No one has said an unkind or cross 
word to me in all this time and harmony and satisfaction have prevailed." 
Henderlite recalled that he had preached 2,500 sermons, baptized 780 
infants, performed 257 marriages, conducted 383 funerals, and made be- 
tween 25,000 and 30,000 home or hospital visits. 

The Rotary Club also honored Dr. Henderlite with a special program 



at the Armington Hotel. "He has been an aggressive leader in everything 
pertaining to the general welfare and moral uplift of our community," 
Rotarian John R. Rankin told the crowd. 

In his twenty-seventh year of his ministry at First Church, Dr. Hen- 
derlite fell ill with influenza and spent several months in Florida in at- 
tempts to recover. But by June 1940 it was obvious that he could not con- 
tinue, and he tendered his resignation effective July 1, 1940. The Gastonia 
Gazette paid tribute to him in an editorial: "By virtue of his long period 
of faithful and devoted service, Dr. Henderlite has become the Nestor of 
the pastors of this city, and, perhaps, of the county." (Nestor was a leg- 
endary Greek figure known for his long life and wisdom.) The congrega- 
tion reluctantly voted to accept his resignation, awarding him a pension 
of $1,800 per year for the rest of his life. Although he attended services 
occasionally after his resignation, he never fully recovered physically and 
died on January 17, 1942, at the age of seventy. In his honor, the name of 
the Men's Bible Class, which he had taught for many years, was changed 
to the Henderlite Bible Class. 

His daughter, Dr. Rachel Henderlite, received her Ph.D. from Yale Di- 
vinity School and became the first ordained female in the Presbyterian 
Church. For many years, she was professor of Applied Christianity, or re- 
ligious education, at the General Assembly Training School in Richmond, 
later named Presbyterian School of Christian Education. Some classes at 
Union Theological Seminary were added to her teaching schedule. Rachel 
resigned her position in Richmond to become a professor at Austin Semi- 
nary in Texas. She was a popular keynote speaker and lecturer, whose keen 
sense of humor endeared her to audiences. She authored several books 
and study guides and chaired important General Assembly committees. 
Among her books were A Call to Faith and We All Are Barabas. She wrote 
texts for Covenant Life Curriculum — the staple church-schools literature 
for Presbyterians. She also was a prominent participant in the first march 
advocating desegregation in the South. 

In February 1946, the church presented a $10,000 scholarship endow- 
ment in Dr. James Henderlite's name to Union Theological Seminary of 


Dr. Henderlite's other daughter, Virginia, became a director of Chris- 
tian education and married the Reverend Frank Jones, a Presbyterian min- 
ister. Their son, James H. Jones, has served as a deacon and is presently an 
elder at First Church, Gastonia. 

Father, we pray for our world; may there be peace on earth good- 
will toward all. We thank you for those who reach out to others, 
iv ho work and labor for peace and goodwill among all people. 
Bless their labors. 

— From a Christmas prayer, December 5, ippp, by the Reverend 
Dr. Wilson P. Rhotonjr., interim associate minister for 
congregational care, ippy—ippp 


Chapter Four 



How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul 
longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh 
sing for joy to the living God. 

— Psalm 84:1-2 

The Reverend Irving M. Ellis, who had been assistant minister to Dr. 
Henderlite, was chosen by the congregation to succeed him on Sep- 
tember 8, 1940, after illness forced Dr. Henderlite to resign. At the time, 
it was a very unusual move for a Presbyterian church to promote an assis- 
tant to the senior position. Now such an action is prohibited by the Gen- 
eral Assembly. 

The Reverend Ellis led the church through the stressful years of World 
War II and into the Korean War era. He was a popular youth leader, but 
his real strength lay in his talent as a gifted singer and musician. He used 
his musical background to attract the first of many talented musicians to 
First Church as staff members. 

The Reverend Ellis' education and background were a departure from 
the norm in the church's selection of senior ministers. Most of his pre- 
decessors had been Southerners, many of them educated at Davidson or 
other Southern colleges or universities. Ellis was a native of a Chicago 


Rev. Irving M. Ellis, pastor, 1940-1950. 

suburb and received his training at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago be- 
fore going on to Roanoke College and then to Union Theological Semi- 
nary in Richmond. 

The Reverend Irving Ellis, called "Deac" by close friends, first came 
to Gastonia in 1923 as part of a group of Union seminary students visit- 
ing First Church to help with the music program. He was called in 1937 
as assistant pastor and music director and was asked to work with the 
youth under Dr. Henderlite. He organized the junior high and senior high 
youth divisions meeting on Sunday nights in the Hut, a small building be- 
side the education building on Marietta Street. The Reverend Ellis and 
his wife taught Vacation Bible School each year. The Reverend Ellis also 
accompanied the youth to summer camps at Camp Cherokee in the Kings 
Mountain Battleground and to the Montreat Youth Conferences. He was 


a successful youth minister and is recalled today by his current Presbyte- 
rian parishioners for his youth leadership. Alice Wood, who was a teen- 
ager during Ellis' tenure at First Church, said, "He was kind, but firm 
and strict. I remember him as being very talented musically. He taught 
us songs and he would play the marimba for us." Helen Mando said, "He 
was wonderful. I just loved him." 

The Reverend Ellis soon became known among members of his con- 
gregation for his unusually long sermons. Young people in the balcony 
used to compete at guessing how long he would preach. They would time 
him from the beginning of his sermon to the end, when the Reverend El- 
lis said, "Let us pray." He used to call on the late John Akers' father, the 
Reverend Dr. W. W. Akers, a retired minister, to deliver the benedic- 
tion at the end of every Sunday morning worship service. (The Reverend 

Junior Choir at Marietta Street church, 1946. Front row: Mary Thompson, Norma 
Jean Yarbrough, Margaret Boyce, Theresa Ward, Katherine Anthony, Gail Cherry, 
Catherine Morrow, Kay Faust, Judy Jackson, Jimmy Giles, Ralph Falls Jr., Larry 
Giles, Jimmy Walton, Jo Ann Kluttz, Bobby Gray. Back row: Florence Robinson, 
Nancy Thompson, Doris Ann Yarbrough, Douglas Boyce, Mack Giles, Jean Ether- 
idge, Sarah Adams, David Mackorell, Sally Dozier, Ruby Neal Ford, Irene Cherry, 
Charles Loftin III, Betty Jean Glenn, Kay Ellis. 


Wedding of Margaret Kempton and Roy Kelly, February 
20, 1943, Marietta Street church. 

Dr. Akers served as supply minister at Armstrong Memorial Presbyterian 
from September 1942 to February 1943.) 

The Reverend Ellis had a polished tenor voice. He was an accom- 
plished pianist and organist and loved to play the marimba, although he 
played only in the evening service and on other occasions, never at the 
eleven o'clock worship service. Occasionally, he performed at public func- 
tions outside the church. He also was a powerful swimmer with a Johnny 
Weissmuller physique. Ellis and his wife, Lulawill, had two girls and two 
boys, worked well with young people, and were well liked by them. Mrs. 
Ellis was a talented musician in her own right and served as organist when 


■ 1 

P5, ^^Jl 




Young People's Coun- 
cil, May 1954, at home 
of Mr. and Mrs. Robert 
Gordon (Mrs. Gordon is 
playing the piano). 

needed. Under the Reverend Ellis' leadership, Sunday night youth fellow- 
ships were started. Robert and Lucille Gordon were lay leaders who enter- 
tained youth groups at "Singings" in their home and at a river house. 

Beloved church secretary "Miss Bess" Jackson began serving under the 
Reverend Ellis in 1941 as the only office staff member. Longtime mem- 
bers recall that Miss Bess wore a hearing aid 
around her neck and would hold the tele- 
phone receiver upside down to talk. In the 
closing years of Dr. Henderlite's administra- 
tion, First Church member Neale Patrick, 
then a recent graduate of the University of 
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, became edi- 
tor of a newly created weekly newsletter, the 
Beacon. When Miss Bess arrived, she took 
over as editor of the Beacon and served it 
faithfully until 1964. 

In 1942, Katherine (Kitty) McChesney 
was employed as director of religious educa- 
tion. She married H. S. Mackie in 1944. In 
1945 Mary Olive Walker became director of "Miss Bess" P. Jackson. 



religious education. Miss Walker later became a McChesney also, when 
she married Kitty's brother, Charles. (The position of DRE was changed 
by the General Assembly to Director of Christian Education [DCE] in 
the 1960s.) The Reverend Linwood Cheshire was called as associate min- 
ister to the Reverend Ellis and served from 1944 until November 1947. 

Aided by the fact that the Reverend Ellis was an accomplished mu- 
sician, the music program at First Church flourished under his leader- 
ship. Miss Helen Hubbard, a graduate of Westminster Choir College in 
Princeton, New Jersey, became the church's first female director of mu- 
sic. She was followed by Martha Enck, who became director of music 
in 1942. After nine months in the post, she married Bill Loftin, assistant 
Sunday school superintendent, whose grandfather was John Frank Jack- 
son, a charter member. Emma Binns Bercaw of Roanoke, Virginia, fol- 
lowed Loftin as music director. Both Mrs. Loftin and Mrs. Bercaw were 
also graduates of Westminster Choir College. 

During the Reverend Ellis' pastorate, three local missions, Adams Me- 
morial Church and Piedmont and Mountain View chapels, were estab- 
lished with the help of great lay leadership. At Piedmont Chapel, Wade 
Williford, Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Gordon, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Moss, 
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Moss, Verne Shive, and Mrs. John Wilkins were out- 
standing lay leaders. 

It was also during the Reverend Ellis' pastorate that First Church at- 
tracted an unusual pair of new members, Hilda Kreutzer and her mother, 
two Jewish women who had escaped the Holocaust. Hilda Kreutzer 
had come from Germany to Gastonia with her husband Adolf and her 
mother. A piano teacher, Hilda was asked to play for the Women's Bible 
Class at First Church in early 1942. When she heard soloist Roy Sudduth 
sing "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," she was so overcome with 
emotion that she decided to join the church. Her mother also joined. Her 
husband never did. Upon Hilda's death in 2002, she left an endowment 
of more than $450,000 for the Crisis Assistance Ministry for Christians 
and Jews in Greater Gastonia, Inc. Roy Sudduth's granddaughter, Katie 
Clark, continues the tradition as a musician in the church today. She sings 
in the choir, plays the flute and handbells, and directs the youth handbell 


Fred A. Ratchford, deacon, elder, 
and clerk of Session. 

Hilda Kreutzer, convert to Christianity 
and benefactor of Crisis Assistance 
Ministry, 2003. 

choirs. Leslie Lewis, a gifted handbell soloist, also directs children's hand- 
bell choirs. Miss Lewis performs regularly for First Church and is also 
asked to perform in area churches. 

Foreign missions were important in the life of the church in the Rever- 
end Ellis' day. But an unusual situation arose in July 1950 when the church 
attempted to give $2,500 to the Presbyterian Church Foreign Missions 
to buy a new Jeep for the missionary in western Brazil, the Reverend 
Reichardt Taylor. The following inscription was to go on the Jeep: "Given 
to Presbyterian World Missions in Brazil in loving memory of Mr. and 
Mrs. Frost Torrence and Mr. and Mrs. James H. Kennedy by Mr. and 
Mrs. Charlton K. Torrence, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Julian, Mr. and Mrs. 
George Gray, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. John O. Durham and Mrs. Marie Tor- 
rence Lattimore." When World Missions personnel discovered that Bra- 
zilian law would prevent the importation of a new vehicle, the olive drab 
Jeep was driven around Nashville by church personnel until it could be 
reclassified as a used vehicle and then shipped to Brazil. 


Ellis left First Church to become director of religious education in 
the Appalachia Synod at Knoxville. Upon his resignation in December 
1950, to be effective January 1, 1951, he was presented with the keys to a 
new Pontiac. The gift was a sign of great affection from members of the 

Controversy among some members of the First Church congregation 
over the Reverend Ellis' manner and style in leading the church was obvi- 
ous in the resolution accepting his resignation in 1950. "He has hewn the 
line, let the chips fall where they would," it read in part. "He has given us 
the pure and unadulterated gospel, not tainted with the malevolence of 
modernism." King College in Bristol, Tennessee, conferred upon him the 
Doctor of Divinity degree. 

A reminder of the controversy was in a June 1992 issue of the church's 
Chimes newsletter reporting the death of Dr. Ellis at age ninety-three. It 
said, "Dr. Ellis, in addition to his genial personality, also had a reputa- 
tion as one who 'called things as he saw them.' Some members recall how 
during his sermons he was direct enough to cite unchristian and immoral 
behavior of specific members of the community who were sitting in the 

Ellis also had many loyal friends, and he was known as a compassion- 
ate pastor who took extremely good care of his flock. A resolution mark- 
ing his passing stated: "Particularly during the trying days of World War 
II when some of our people were called on to pass through the valley of 
the shadow of death because their brave young men paid the supreme 
sacrifice on a far off field of battle, in Europe, the Pacific, or on some 
barren waste of coral and sand, Mr. Ellis was a source of comfort and 
strength to those bereaved parents." (A list of veterans who served in vari- 
ous wars is included in the appendix to this volume.) 

We know there are those who call us enemies and who pray not 
for us but against us. We pray for them today, as difficult as it is 
to do so, because you have told us, in Jesus Christ, to pray for our 
enemies and to overcome evil with good. Help us to know how to 


pray appropriately for our enemies and how to hate what is evil 
without being vindictive and embracing evil ourselves. Make us a 
people loyal to our life and mission, our worship and witness. 
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. 

— From a prayer for the people by the Reverend Mr. Frank 
Mayes, associate pastor, 1980—1989 


Chapter Five 


For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard 
seed. . . nothing shall be impossible with you. 

— Matthew 17:20 

And upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell 
shall not prevail against it. 

—Matthew 16:18 

Afourteen-member pulpit committee, headed by Hugh A. Query, was 
. named to lead the search for a successor to the Reverend Ellis. Four- 
teen months later, on March 2, 1952, the call went out to the Reverend Dr. 
Harry M. Moffett Jr., pastor of the University Presbyterian Church in 
Austin, Texas, a church that served the University of Texas community. 
Moffett, then forty-two, had been in Austin since 1945, having moved 
there from First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Missouri, the site of 
the main campus of the University of Missouri. A native of Fredericks- 
burg, Virginia, Moffett came from a long line of ministers and missionar- 
ies. Not only was his father, Dr. H. D. Moffett (whose final pastorate was 
at Davidson College for twelve years), a Presbyterian minister, but both 
of his grandfathers and a brother, Polk Moffett, were Presbyterian minis- 
ters as well. He also had uncles and aunts who were missionaries to China 
and Brazil. 


Dr. Harry Moffett, pastor, 1952-1966. 


After graduating from Davidson in 1931, where he was a classmate 
of future U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Dr. Moffett worked as an 
auto mechanic and teacher for more than a year before deciding to enter 
Union Theological Seminary, which, along with the Presbyterian School 
of Christian Education, is a theological-education institution of the Pres- 
byterian Church (U.S.A.) located in Richmond, Virginia. After receiv- 
ing his Doctor of Theology degree there, Moffett was called to serve four 
small churches in and around Johnston City, Tennessee. He stayed there 
until 1940. He left to become pastor of the Liberty Presbyterian Church 
in Liberty, Missouri, near Kansas City, where he stayed until taking the 
Columbia post. 

As a result of his pastorate in Columbia, he formed a friendship with 
University of Missouri football coach Don Farrot, and later in Austin 
forged the same relationship with the University of Texas football coach 
Blair Cherry. Moffett was a sportsman and an athlete himself. 

According to legend, Dr. Moffett happened to be visiting his David- 
son alma mater when D. R. "Doc" LaFar, a First Church lay leader, was 
vice chairman of the Davidson College board. LaFar sought advice from 
the president of Davidson, Dr. John Rood Cunningham, who asked Dr. 
Moffett to consider taking the First Church pastorate. To please Dr. Cun- 
ningham, Dr. Moffett made the trip to meet with the pulpit committee, 
although he felt the church had problems and he had reservations about 
accepting a call there. The pulpit committee immediately liked Moffett, 
considering him a polished and educated minister who spoke with depth, 
frequently quoting religious intellectuals such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 

Once Dr. Moffett and his wife Margaret made the decision to move to 
Gastonia, their adjustment was smooth and satisfying. The congregation 
welcomed them with open arms and feted them with church suppers. 
At one of these, pulpit committee member W. L. Wetzell Jr. dedicated a 
takeoff of the poem "Land of the Long Leaf Pine" to the Moffett family: 

Here's to the land of the long leaf pine 
And here's to the Lone Star State. 
Each one claims to be the best, 
And both of them are great. 


But the Texans quit their boasting 

'Though was pretty hard to stop it 

When we lasso-ed and put our brand 

On Dr. Harry Moffett. 

They claim that we are rustlers 

And in Texas that's a crime 

But we hope they will forgive us 

If we'll only give them time. 

We know that they will be good sports 

And won't raise too much fuss 

For they know that we are getting 

What really belonged to us. 

So we welcome all the Moffetts 

To our city, state and church. 

We'll always strive to help you, 

Never leave you in the lurch. 

To Harry Jr., Peggy, Margaret, 

Ann Stuart, Harry too, 

We've already learned to love you, 

And we hope you'll love us too! 

The Gastonia Gazette introduced Dr. Moffett with a profile on June 14, 
1952. In the article, Moffett said he and his family had found the people in 
the city extremely friendly and likeable. "Our association here has been 
very good," he said, "and we think that Gastonia is an excellent place." 

Moffett agreed to come to Gastonia for a salary of $7,200 per year, 
plus an annuity of 7.5 percent of his salary and a one-month vacation. The 
church also bought a house for him on Carolina Avenue, allowing him to 
build equity as others before him had not been able to. He told the pulpit 
committee that he would stay seven or eight years. 

Following the practice of allowing senior ministers to form their own 
personnel teams, Dr. Moffett hired Mrs. L. C. Majors as director of 
Christian education (DCE) in October 1952, but she was able to serve 
only a few months. Eubank Taylor, considered one of the outstanding 
DCEs in the Presbyterian Church in the United States, then came in July 


Dr. J. N. Brown, associate minister, 

1953 as DCE. A native of Anderson, South Carolina, she was a graduate 
of Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and the Presbyterian 
School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. She came to First 
Church in Gastonia from the First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, 
South Carolina. The Reverend J. N. Brown was called as associate pastor 
in October 1954. He had served as an associate minister in Baton Rouge, 

A major role in the life of the church during the mid-1950s was filled 
by a succession of volunteers known as pastor's aides. These dedi- 
cated women worked with the church staff to gather and distribute the 
names of visitors, bereaved members, and new members to Women of the 
Church circle leaders who would then assign circle members to call upon 
those listed. For instance, Esther (Mrs. Minor R.) Adams, a pastor's aide 
in 1955, noted that the circle members made 3,499 visits. Tommye (Mrs. 



Ralph) Falls also was distinguished by her constant and numerous pas- 
tor's aide visits. 

When Dr. Moffett became senior minister, the church's fifty-seven- 
year-old physical plant was in dire need of modernization. Other growth 
in downtown Gastonia severely restricted the possibility of church expan- 
sion. Dr. Moffett was in the pulpit a short time before he began to con- 
sider what to do about the church's physical condition and its location. 
The membership had grown to 1,323 with a budget of $123,806. 

On December 13, 1952, a joint meeting of the executive committees of 
the Session, the Diaconate, and Women of the Church representatives 
Mrs. Hugh Query and Mrs. J. N. Summerell unanimously decided that 
the church should plan to remain on its present site. However, the com- 
mittee urged that immediate steps be taken to bring the plant to ade- 
quate efficiency and size. The committee also decided to purchase strate- 
gic property, looking to future colonization of the church in an outlying 
area of the city. 

Vacation Bible School, June 1952. 


By October 18, 1953, the charge to the executive committees of the 
Session and Diaconate and the outgoing and incoming presidents of the 
Women of the Church had changed "to recommend the advisability of re- 
maining at the present location or moving or colonization." In the mean- 
time, the church had hired a Charlotte architect to look at the feasibility 
of modernizing the sanctuary on Marietta Street. The architect discov- 
ered that the balcony would have to be condemned, that remodeling the 
sanctuary would cost $170,000, and that the size of the property left no 
room for a badly needed nursery. 

In the search for a site to be used for possible colonization or new con- 
struction, a planning and development committee was named, with D. R. 
LaFar as its chairman. Two church trustees, Ralph Falls and Ralph S. 

Presbyterian house party at Camp Gallant, Montreal, North Carolina, June 1953. First 
row: Dr. Harry Moffett, Mrs. S. A. Robinson, Mrs. J. R. Hudson, Miss Bess Jackson, 
Mrs. Murphy, Miss Georgia Copeland. Second row: Mrs. Walter G. Rhyne, Mrs. 
Louie M. Lattimore, Mrs. J. H. Matthews, Mrs. Hugh Query, Mrs. E. L. Patterson, 
Miss Corinne Puett. 



Robinson Sr., were appointed as a site search committee. They discovered 
a 10.95-acre tract available in the southeastern section of the city, an area 
surrounded by many members' homes and one that a telephone executive 
who was a member of the church suggested would fit the future growth 
of Gastonia. The site on Kendrick Drive (later renamed Garrison Boule- 
vard) was considered way out in the sticks, but the church voted on Feb- 
ruary 20, 1955, to buy it for $32,580 from the heirs of Joseph Fisher Ratch- 
ford, the grandfather of church member Bonnie Blair and former elder 
William C. Ratchford. Ratchford also was great-grandfather to David 
Ratchford, a present member, and Robert W. Ratchford, who became a 
Presbyterian minister. In 1957, two smaller parcels were purchased from 
the Owens family to round out the site at twelve acres. 

Another part of the church property was purchased from the Janie 
Kendrick family. Janie and Ralph Kendrick Sr. were brother and sister. 
Ralph Kendrick Jr. is still a member. Ralph Sr., Janie, and her son, John 
Cleveland Owens Jr., known as J. C., are all deceased. J. C.'s son, Steve 
Owens, has been the maintenance supervisor since 1983. "I see this as my 
calling," Steve Owens said. "It means a lot for me to work and care for the 
church that I grew up in and was built on part of the property that be- 
longed to my family." 

Meanwhile, debate continued on whether to rebuild on the Marietta 
Street site or move to the suburbs. Finally on April 7, 1957, the congrega- 
tion voted by secret ballot 410 to 115 to move to the new site. After the 
vote, the congregation sang "Blest Be the Tie That Binds." 

The move was controversial, because some First Church members re- 
gretted leaving the downtown area where other main-line churches were 
located and many First Church members still lived. Some members feared 
that in a new building on the city's fringe, the church would lose members 
who would chose to attend one of the other downtown churches. Those 
fears were allayed when the congregation lost only a few members. 

Building a new sanctuary turned out to be a unifying experience and a 
tremendous turning point in the effectiveness of the church's ministry. It 
may have created the most energizing burst of enthusiasm since the build- 
ing of the Marietta Street sanctuary. 

With the decision to move made, the work of choosing an architect 


and building contractor and raising the funds necessary to pay for it be- 
gan in earnest. In July 1957, D. R. LaFar was named chairman of a Steer- 
ing Committee. He was joined by a group consisting of M. R. Adams, 
John M. Akers, L. G. Alexander, R. A. Dickson, W. B. Garrison, Ralph S. 
Robinson Sr., and Fred L. Smyre Jr. Robinson was named treasurer. 

Ralph H. Falls was named chairman of the Building Committee with 
the dedicated assistance of Mrs. J. H. Matthews (Elizabeth), Mrs. J. N. 
Summerell (Margaret), M. R. Adams, W. D. Lawson III, and W. R. Spar- 
row. Subcommittees were named to handle specific sections, including 
organ, memorials, properties, landscaping, worship, education and recre- 
ation, fellowship and service facilities, and the all-important finance com- 
mittee. (A complete list of all committees and members appears in the 
Appendix of this volume.) 

The committee considered several possible architects. After conferring 
with representatives of area churches that recently had built new sanctuar- 
ies, including Covenant Presbyterian of Charlotte and First United Meth- 
odist of Gastonia, the committee met with nationally renowned church 
architect Harold Wagoner of Philadelphia and asked him to submit pre- 
liminary sketches. Wagoner, who was known for his beautiful sanctuaries, 
had designed several modernistic churches as well as the interior furnish- 
ings of the Protestant and Catholic chapels at the United States Air Force 
Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

On August 11, 1957, Chairman Falls announced that Wagoner had been 
chosen as the architect for First Church's new building and that the next 
phase, choosing the design, would begin. Meanwhile, W B. Garrison, 
secretary-treasurer of the Gastonia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, was 
chosen as chairman of the finance committee. (Garrison was a member of 
the State Highway Commission; later Garrison Boulevard was named for 
him.) The church set out to raise as much money as possible to fund the 
new adventure and hired Ketchum, Inc., a professional fundraising com- 
pany headquartered in Pittsburgh, but with offices in Charlotte, to help 
for a flat fee of $6,850. 

Members of the Finance Committee remember the first meeting with 
the Ketchum representative, Marshall Thompson. He asked each com- 
mittee member to write down what he was willing to pledge, since the 


Wedding of Martha Barnett and Giles Beal Jr., June 26, 1952, Marietta Street. 

committee would be setting the pace. Each complied without including 
names and handed the cards to him. Thompson slowly rifled through the 
cards and then stunned the committee members as he tore them into little 
pieces and said, "If that's the best you can do, we might as well forget this 
whole thing." He asked them to fill out the cards again and tore them up 
again. On the third try, he nodded with satisfaction and put the cards in 
his pocket. The campaign had begun. 

After four months, ending on December 22, 1957, the Adventure in 
Faith Building Campaign had raised $820,000. It was indeed sacrificial 



Wedding of Sarah Adams and William B. Abernethy Jr., June 29, 1957, Marietta Street. 

giving. There was some talk of reducing the size of the new complex to 
save money. Some members sold second homes and other investments to 
raise their pledge for the new building. More than $300,000 in loans had 
been arranged with Gastonia financial institutions, but only $50,000 was 
actually borrowed, and it was soon repaid. 

One contribution came from an unlikely source. Marshall Rauch, a 
prominent businessman and political leader in Gastonia — and a member 
of Temple Emmanuel — later said that he had decided to give to the con- 
struction of the new church in honor of Lewis "Brud" Gamp, a Queens, 



I * » 

Girl Scout cookie sale, 1957. Left to right: Louise Love, Mayor Leon 
Schneider, Vanna Woods. 

New York, architect and coach who had been a strong influence when 
he was growing up in Woodmere, New York. Mr. Rauch accompanied 
Gamp on a visit through the new church while it was under construction. 
Rauch said later, "I made a rather large contribution in his honor not only 
because he was a Presbyterian, but also because the Presbyterian Church 
has been a good influence on the community." 

When the time finally came to choose the design for the church build- 
ing, the members of the Building Committee found themselves in a 
dilemma. They wanted a beautiful structure, but not a carbon copy of 
what they were leaving in the old building. Building Committee member 
W. D. Lawson III put it this way: "We wanted a church that made people 
say, 'My, isn't that a beautiful church?' We didn't want them to drive by 
and not even notice the church, and we didn't want them to say, 'Would 
you look at that monstrosity that the Presbyterians have built?'" (Lawson, 


who was thirty-two years old then, is the only member of the Building 
Committee living today.) 

The committee members looked at many designs in person or in pho- 
tographs. "About all we could visualize were the colonial churches," Law- 
son said. "So Wagoner would come down from Philadelphia and bring 
different designs, and we would say, 'That's too modern.' He would say, 
'Well, what do you want?' And we never could come to any agreement 
about what we wanted." 

On a business trip to Lincoln County, Lawson noticed a church of a 
striking design in the town of Newton-Conover. At the next meeting, 
one with Wagoner present, Lawson told the other committee members 
about it. Wagoner and all the committee members immediately drove up 
to see it. "It had a roof that swooped up to the back called a hyperbolic 
parabolic," Lawson said. "There was a person cleaning gutters; turned out 
he was the minister. It was a Lutheran church. So we went inside, and I 
said, 'Well, this is worshipful in here, even if on the outside it's strange 

Extensive meetings between the architect and the Building Commit- 
tee followed for fourteen months. Finally by October 1958, the committee 
had decided upon the modern approach, but only after much discussion 
and trepidation. Originally, the committee members thought they would 
want a Gothic design, but rejected the idea after being told Gothic would 
cost 25 to 30 percent more than Colonial or Early American. The indeci- 
sion was still evident on July 31, 1958, in a letter from Wagoner to Falls. "If 
the committee ultimately decided that 'Colonial' is the best answer, you 
may rest assured that we will devote ourselves to the task at hand with the 
utmost diligence." 

Dr. Moffett himself visited Wagoner in his Philadelphia office to take 
what he hoped was a final look at the design. Wagoner wrote to him 
on October 6, saying, "I hope that we are now coming down the 'home 
stretch.' But Falls replied in a letter the next day that the committee had 
met with Dr. Moffett after his visit and that the committee wanted Wag- 
oner to fix a few minor parts of the design before taking it to the congre- 
gation for a vote. He enclosed a list of ten items and said, "Until we re- 


The Committees for the Building Program 

of First Presbyterian Church, Garrison Boulevard 


D. R. LaFar Jr., chairman 

M. R. Adams 

John M. Akers 

L. G. Alexander 

Ralph A. Dickson 

W. B. Garrison 

Fred A. Ratchford 

F. L. Smyre Jr., chairman, 

Board of Deacons, 

ex officio 


W. B. Garrison and Fred L. 

Smyre Jr., cochairmen 
John M. Akers 
Joe L. Barnett 
Dan S. LaFar 
Charles I. Loftin 
Craig Watson 


Ralph Falls, chairman 
M. R. Adams 
L. G. Alexander 
Ralph Dickson 
W. D. Lawson III 
Mrs. J. H. Matthews 
Mrs. J. N. Summerell 


Ralph S. Robinson, chairman 
Caldwell Ragan 
C. K. Torrence Sr. 


Brice T. Dickson, chairman 

Harry S. Cobb 

Mrs. John C. Mason Jr. 

L. Jerry Shive 

Mrs. Fred L. Smyre Sr. 

ceive material from you on these items, the committee's work is more or 
less at a standstill." 

By October 27, 1958, all the details had been worked out and the com- 
mittee was ready to seek congregational approval. Wagoner cautioned in a 
letter to the committee, "The idea of now going before the congregation 



Ralph A. Dickson, chairman 
Mrs. J. N. Summerell, vice 

Harry Cobb 
Paul P. Kincaid 
Dr. W. M. Patrick 
Mrs. Walter Rhyne 
Mrs. Ralph Robinson 


W. D. Lawson III, chairman 
M. R. Adams 
Bynum Carter 
Mrs. James Ormand 
Fred Waters 
Mrs.W. L.WetzellJr. 
Mrs. T. L. Wilson 


W. R. Sparrow, chairman 
Leon G. Alexander 
Mrs. Margaret Beam 
James E. Cashatt 
Harry Mann 
Mrs. J. H. Matthews 
Mrs. Hugh Query 


Mrs. Ralph S. Robinson, 

Mrs. Margaret Beam 
Mrs.W. L.WetzellJr. 


A. Gilbert Bell, chairman 
Mrs. W B. Garrison 
Mrs. Paul Kincaid 

for a simple yes or no concerning the general architecture seems good to 
me. I do suggest, however, that before doing so you invite as many church 
leaders and church groups as possible to view the work prior to the con- 
gregational meeting." 

The committee followed his advice. Wagoner came down to partici- 



pate in the gatherings. Dr. Moffett thanked him for his presence in a 
February 3, 1959, letter and informed him: "The congregation meets next 
Sunday and I am hopeful that everything will go well. I have understood 
that opposition is being organized, but I have not been able to detect any 
very effective movement as yet." Dr. Moffett's intuition proved accurate. 
On February 9, 1959, the congregation voted by secret ballot 325 to 115 to 
accept the design. 

"I feel that Sunday was really a turning point in the life of this congre- 
gation," Dr. Moffett wrote to Wagoner, "and we are eager to capitalize 
on this feeling of harmony and unity by moving ahead as rapidly as we 

Wagoner proceeded with drawing the plans in accordance with the 
wishes of the Building Committee and noted in an October 19, 1959, let- 
ter to Chairman Falls, "This may not be the best church which we have 
ever designed, but at the moment, I think that it is." 

Within a few months, R. H. Pinnix, a Methodist who lived two doors 
down from D. R. LaFar, was selected as the general contractor, the City 
of Gastonia annexed the property, and the ground breaking was sched- 
uled for April 10, i960. When the church was finished, Pinnix gave a silver 
communion service to celebrate the occasion. His granddaughter, Sandra 
Garrison Hodges, her husband, and their triplets are present members. 

Meanwhile, as construction proceeded, a myriad of problems surfaced, 
not the least of which was that Wagoner reported that he had been given 
an inaccurate survey of the property. "I believe Mr. Pinnix shares my 
opinion that the surveyor should not have shown grades that he did not 
survey," Wagoner said in an April 28, i960 letter to Falls. "This is the first 
time in 35 years that we have ever had an erroneous survey of this charac- 
ter. . . . If we had known the facts, we would not have designed this shape 
building. I think we can work our way out of this, but it could have been 
quite disastrous." 

Dr. Moffett was intent on not only building a new church, but more 
importantly considering an edifice that stirred the spirit of the church in 
its congregation. He personally charged each committee with the chal- 
lenge, and he led the meetings with devotions. As a result, the architec- 


Construction of steeple and cross, 1962. 


Refurbishing of carillon bells, summer 2002. 


ture of the church reflects the history of the Christian church and its te- 
nets of faith. Dr. Moffett was a scholar of not only the Bible, but also 
many other disciplines. He brought all of his talents — intellectual and 
emotional — to the building of First Presbyterian's new home on Garrison 

The various building committees labored long and seriously on each 
decision affecting construction and worship. For instance, all doors are 
wheelchair-accessible, and most are on one level to facilitate easy pedes- 
trian and handicapped entrance and egress. 

When Dr. Moffett began participating in the design process for the 
new sanctuary, he said he wanted it to have a central pulpit. Another de- 
tail was how to place the cross in the sanctuary, since Dr. Moffett had 
asked for a design that would allow "preaching under the shadow of the 
cross." The question was whether to suspend the cross or attach it to 
the rear chancel wall. The Building Committee initially preferred attach- 
ing it to the wall, but Wagoner recommended suspending it, so it be- 
came part of the motif with the pulpit, rather than a separate concept that 
would draw attention to it. Lighting on the cross designed to throw two 
shadows, representing the two thieves who were crucified with Christ, 
added to the powerful motif. The result was a magnificent surprise for the 

The church files contain a letter dated September 5, 1961, from Wag- 
oner to the artist LeRoy Setziel of Portland, Oregon, authorizing him to 
proceed with creating the cross. At eleven feet tall and nine feet wide, 
the cross was to be made of oak and hewn walnut, since Dr. Moffett had 
specified that he wanted to preach under a hewn cross, not a shiny one. 
Although the cross appears curved when viewed from the front, it is per- 
fectly straight when seen from underneath. 

In all, the new church facility contains seven crosses: inside the sanctu- 
ary, inside the chapel, outside between the chapel and the fellowship hall, 
two on the entrance to the sanctuary, one on the rear of the sanctuary, 
and, of course, one on the steeple. 

But in Wagoner's opinion the incorrect survey and the position of the 
major cross in the sanctuary were minor problems compared to the sug- 


Raising the steeple of our new church, August 16, 1961. Left to right: Dan S. LaFar, 
D. R. LaFar, Dr. Harry Moffett, R. A. Dickson, W. B. Garrison, Margaret Moffett, 
C. I. Loftin, R. L. Leviner, W. D. Lawson III, Eubank Taylor, Mrs. Woody Morris, 
R. H. Pinnix, and Mrs. M. R. Adams. 

gested placement and design of the organ, which he called "uninspiring." 
Wagoner proposed placing the organ in the transepts flanking the chan- 
cel, but the organ builder, Casavant Freres Limited of Quebec, argued 
for placement in the rear gallery. On January 25, 1961, Wagoner wrote to 
Falls that "all of us in our office are greatly disappointed with the design 
which Casavant has submitted." After failing to reach what he considered 
an acceptable compromise, an obviously exasperated Wagoner wrote Falls 
on April 11, 1961, "Perhaps we might compare the situation to a beautiful 
lady who weighs 300 pounds. No matter how skillful the dress designer, 
he cannot really disguise the excess avoirdupois (of course, he can always 
close his eyes and listen to her sing, if she has a good voice)." 

Even as late as August 1961, the controversy was still alive. "We simply 



do not understand why Casavant has had to take our organ out of pro- 
duction because of lack of information received from your firm," Build- 
ing Committee member W. D. Lawson wrote to Wagoner on August n. 
"Quite frankly, the committee feels that there has been a lack of coopera- 
tion between you and Casavant. We do not know what has brought this 
about as we have relied on you completely in all matters." 
Wagoner replied on September 6, 1961. 

Your letter indicating a "lack of cooperation" on the part of our 
office was the "unkindest cut of all." I am quite sure that we are 
not as smart as we ought to be, but I can certainly assure you that 
we have made a sincere effort to be cooperative. . . . The basic 
problem of the design of the organ, when it is exposed, is one which 
I frankly did not realize in its fullest extent. Up until the time we 
designed your church, the "design" of the organ was not a problem. 
The exposed organs which we had heretofore done were not in very 
prominent positions and their actual conception, from an aesthetic 
standpoint, was not too important. 

Slowly, all the problems were solved and construction proceeded to- 
ward completion by December 1961, but Wagoner informed the church 
on August 18, 1961, that the project cost was now more than $1 million 
and that his fee would be 7.2 percent of the total building cost. More 
changes and additions would push the final cost to $1.45 million and re- 
quire a second phase of fund-raising, which included the funding of me- 
morials in the form of dedication of parts of the church building and 
grounds. A list of these memorials is included in the Memorial Book in 
the Heritage Room. This book, given by Brice T Dickson, contains en- 
dearing memorials written by family members to honor those loved ones 
they remembered with gifts to the new church. It is well worth the read- 
er's time to spend an hour enjoying this large, red-leather volume. 

According to the 1961 First Church history by Charles F. Daniel, "The 
church is designed and equipped to adequately care for a congregation of 
2,000 or more and is erected to stand for centuries. It is a complete unit 
and is not designed for additions or expansions; the idea being when 
the facilities become cramped, the formation of new congregations will 


be an imperative need." The sanctuary itself was built to accommodate 
860 — according to the fire code. 

Spiritual influences were prominent in the new design. The scripture 
verse carved into the baptismal font is taken from II Corinthians 5:17: "If 
any man be in Christ he is a new creature." The verse carved in the lower 
lectern is from Psalm 119:165: "Great peace have they which love Thy law." 
On the pulpit, the carving is from John 8:12: "I am the light of the world: 
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of 

As construction proceeded on the new facility, the last service was held 
in the old sanctuary on Marietta Street on October 8, 1961. In his final 
sermon there, Dr. Moffett said, 

The little congregation of 236 who came into these walls when 
they were new, God has blessed them, their faith, their vision, and 
their devotion. It has never been easy, has it, for those who are 
really concerned about the Kingdom of God? As the church in the 
community has grown, the need for a clearer and more courageous, 
and a firmer and more dedicated witness to the Lord Jesus Christ 
has increased. As a community of which we are a part continues to 
grow, the need for Christian sacrifice and dedication on the part 
of those of us whom God has so signally blessed will continue to 
increase. So let these stones remind us that we who have taken the 
name of God upon us, we who have fashioned for ourselves, with 
His help, another beautiful house made of stone in which to worship 
and serve Him, this promises us no ease. This calls us to dedication 
and to service. May God grant in that spirit that we leave this place 
and enter into another. 

The first service on the new site was held on October 15, 1961, in the 
fellowship hall, since the new sanctuary was not complete. Funerals, wed- 
dings, and baptisms were held there while Dr. Moffett and First Church 
members eagerly awaited the completion of the new sanctuary. That day 
came on June 3, 1962, amid prayer and hymns. Wagoner spoke briefly, 
saying, "This church . . . sprung from a different approach to church ar- 
chitecture, prepared especially for you, and I hope that what we have done 


Aerial view of our new church on Garrison Boulevard, 1962. 

together will have a lasting influence on Presbyterianism." He told mem- 
bers of the Building Committee that the curving walls in the sanctuary 
were made from marble chips that originally were to be used in the Air 
Force Academy. 

Dr. Richard Peek, then director of music and organist at Covenant 


Presbyterian of Charlotte, gave the dedicatory organ recital on Sunday, 
October 7, 1962. The Casavant organ was given in memory of Mr. and 
Mrs. Alfred Monroe Smyre and Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick Lewis Smyre Sr. 
by their children and grandchildren. 

A five-hundred-pound cornerstone was laid in the new building in spe- 
cial services on June 10, 1962. It contained forty items detailing events of 
the church and the community dating from the current time of the place- 
ment back to 1895. Among the items were histories of the church, Gasto- 
nia, and Gaston County; the 1961-1962 Women of the Church Yearbook; 
maps of Gastonia, Gaston County, and North Carolina; and brochures 
and statistical data of the area from the Chamber of Commerce. 

The 1895 cornerstone was moved from the downtown church, and the 
contents of its time capsule were noted and replaced in the capsule. It 
was placed under the new tower and actually forgotten until found by 
Tom Summer and construction workers in 2002 during renovation of the 

Situated on a hill at the apex of Gastonia, 825 feet above sea level, the 
dramatic sanctuary, with its 165-foot spire, blended easily with the shape 
of the mountains to the west. Dr. Moffett had asked that the pastor's 
study be designed to allow him to look at the mountains for inspiration. 
Now the mountains are somewhat obscured by the growth of trees behind 
the church. 

Teach us again O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that godli- 
ness with contentment is great gain, that except the Lord build 
the house, they labor in vain who build it. 

May our thankfulness for your mercies find expression in ser- 
vice to others and in our dedication to you, our loving and living 
Lord. To your glory. Amen. 

— From a morning prayer by the Reverend Dr. Donald Mitchell, 
interim pastor, 1995—1997 


Chapter Six 



/ will lift up mine eyes unto the bills. From whence cometh my 
help? My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and 
earth . . . the Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming 
in from this time forth and for evermore. 

— Psalm 121 v i, 2, 8 

Dr. Harry Moffett had no plan to visit the Belgian Congo in the 
spring of i960, especially if he knew it would cause him to miss the 
official ground breaking of the new church building in Gastonia on April 
10 of that year. 

But he felt he just could not say no when the Board of World Missions 
of the entire Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) asked him 
to be an official representative on an important trip to the African coun- 
try. Dr. Moffett was chosen to attend a March 28, i960, meeting in the 
Congo to formally turn over PCUS property to the newly created Con- 
golese Presbyterian Church. This meeting would take place just before 
the country attained its independence on June 30, i960. Dr. Moffett was 
to accompany the Reverend Dr. C. Darby Fulton, the executive secre- 
tary of the PCUS Board of World Missions. Dr. Fulton had been to the 
Congo on several occasions and he knew the potential danger he and Dr. 
Moffett would be facing. 

Just a few months earlier, the Reverend J. Kemp Hobson, a Presby- 


terian missionary who had visited First Church in Gastonia in 1956, had 
been severely injured in the Congo when a rioter cut off his hands. He 
had been flown to the United States for reattachment surgery. Hobson 
had written to the First Church newsletter in Gastonia on December 20, 
1959, "We thought Christian teaching was doing something to break down 
the division in tribes. . . . The recent agitation and trouble has of course 
done some harm, but it has done one thing for the Native Church that is 
constructive. It has convinced Native leaders and Native Christians that 
the missionaries cannot stay in this country forever, and that the Congo 
church must eventually stand on its own feet." Presbyterian missionaries 
had been in the country since 1890. 

First Church of Gastonia had supported Hobson and other missionar- 
ies in the Congo and other places for years, including Brazil, where Dr. 
Henderlite's nephew, the Reverend Langdon Henderlite, was a mission- 
ary. In Japan, the church had given assistance to the Reverend and Mrs. J. 
A. McAlpine and in Korea to the Reverend and Mrs. George Brown and 
the Reverend and Mrs. C. G. Durham, and in Taiwan, the Reverend and 
Mrs. U. T. Tremble. 

Dr. Moffett had been a member of the Board of World Missions since 
1954 and had faithfully attended the board meetings in Nashville. So when 
the board met on March 16, i960, it decided it would be "wise to have 
a representative to accompany Dr. Fulton for so important a consulta- 
tion," and the board asked that Dr. Moffett "be urged to go if the way be 
clear." Dr. Fulton had received a letter from one of the missionaries in the 
Congo warning him that the situation was "dangerous." Nevertheless, Dr. 
Moffett agreed to accompany Dr. Fulton. He left on Monday, March 20, 
by train for New York City to meet Dr. Fulton. From there they flew to 
Manchester, England, then changed planes several times before arriving 
in Africa on Friday, March 24. 

Dr. Moffett let his congregation know of details about his trip in the 
March 27, i960, issue of the church newsletter. "Because of the sudden- 
ness of my appointment to go with Dr. Fulton to Africa, I have not been 
able to see many of you," he wrote. "However, I know that the Women of 
the Church are going to have prayer groups for our mission and a great 
many of you have expressed your interest and concern. I want to thank 


Dr. Moffett and Dr. Fulton preparing to visit nine of the ten Congolese missions. 

you very humbly for your prayers and support." He wrote that he would 
try to keep the congregation informed but he did not know how effi- 
cient the mail would be. "Although Dr. Fulton will bear the brunt of the 
responsibility, it is a great privilege for me to share this experience with 
him. I am very grateful to the Session and to the congregation for allow- 
ing me to go. You will be much in my thoughts and prayers and I know I 
will be in yours." 

It turned out that Dr. Moffett was able to send only one letter back 
home. In it he reported that he and Dr. Fulton had spent three hours 
answering questions from the Congolese clerics on the operation of the 
church mission. "One of our missionaries, John Davis, has a Piper Cub 



and starting Monday we are planning to visit every station (often), except 
one, of our Mission. We will travel by air and car and be on the go con- 
stantly for 8 days. There will be no time to write." 

Dr. Moffett did more than travel and confer. He also delivered ser- 
mons in English at two mission outposts, Tshimbi and Ndesha. In his 
seventy-two-page journal of his trip into the Congo, Dr. Moffett admit- 
ted to himself that he was very nervous. "I must confess that I am labor- 
ing under a burden of anxiety at this point for I am to preach to a Congo- 
lese congregation thru an interpreter on Sunday," he wrote. "I greatly fear 
the loss of poise and clarity of thought and self confidence because of my 
extemporary style." 

But after he had delivered the sermons, he wrote, "I have had a glori- 
ous and unforgettable spiritual experience! My first Sunday worship with 
a Congolese congregation lifted me up into God's presence in a wonder- 
ful and memorable way. The power of Christ to break thru the barriers 
of race, language, custom and the wide chasm of educational advantage 
and cultural privilege and make us one in worship and faith will never be 

In his journal, Dr. Moffett wrote about the beauty and vastness of Af- 
rica and about the poverty and ignorance he found in the Congo. But af- 
ter he met with and came to know some of the Congolese Christians, he 
wrote that it was unspeakably and indescribably moving. "I shall never be 
the same again," he wrote. "I feel as though deep subterranean caverns of 
prejudice and fear that were established in my deep consciousness from 
my birth have been penetrated with the light of Christ and will never 
again be the dark breeding places of prejudice and latent hate or fear they 
once were. I do not believe I'll ever be slave of race prejudice again nor 
lose this freedom of the spirit that has possessed me — I pray God, I never 
lose it!" 

Within a few days in the country, Dr. Moffett was beginning to see 
what its future would hold: "I cannot escape the pessimistic conclusion 
that chaos, and, probably, violence will spread throughout the Congo af- 
ter independence, if not before, and that we should give serious thought 
to the safety of our missionaries and most especially the women and chil- 


Dr. Moffett titled this photo from the Congo "Native Market." 

dren." Dr. Moffett's observations proved correct. Violence continued to 
plague the Congo even into the early twenty-first century. 

It was not all work and hardship for Dr. Moffett on the trip. His mis- 
sionary hosts took him fishing for tiger fish, which he described as "a 
scaled fish of rich gold and black stripes with ferocious teeth." He caught 
one of about five pounds and had his photograph taken with it (see color 
insert). "It gave me the most terrific fight for its size of any fish I ever han- 
dled. This fish is also delicious to eat," he wrote. 

Dr. Moffett described his main mission — that of helping Dr. Fulton 
negotiate handing over control to the Congolese — as being 

conducted with considerable confusion and disorder and consisted 
largely of interminable and repetitious "palaver." This is a great word 



in the Congo. "Palaver" is debate over a controversy or the solution of 
a problem. The word describes a very elemental Congolese trait. One 
never goes straight to a point. You approach it obliquely by a very 
involved and circuitous route, trying always to bait your opponent. 
When a decision is finally reached, if ever, then the Congolese 
say "We have cut the palaver." ... It is a grave mistake to assume 
that because the Congolese is primitive, limited educationally and 
shabbily dressed living in a mud hut that he is stupid or slow. He is 
far from it. These people have inherited a wisdom and astuteness 
that is mysterious and utterly foreign to our ways but it is far from 
foolish or weak. It is sharp, clever, and very difficult to cope with. 

Dr. Moffett devotes several pages of his journal to a history lesson 
of the Presbyterian missionary involvement in the Congo, beginning in 
1891. Then he discusses the new arrangement that he and Dr. Fulton were 
finally able to negotiate with the Congolese. Finally, he ends his journal 
with a fascinating description of a trip with Dr. Fulton to visit the king 
of the Belugas tribe of about 100,000 at his palace, really a collection of 
thatched buildings, where he kept about three hundred wives. The Be- 
lugas were considered talented artists and excelled in weaving colorful 
thatch mats. "Before we left the King presented Darby a ceremonial knife 
and me an old and intricate mat," Dr. Moffett wrote. 

Dr. Fulton wrote in his diary during the trip with Dr. Moffett, "Sev- 
eral missionaries expressed amazement that so many Africans could have 
reverted so quickly to completely heathen customs and practices which 
they had been thought to have outgrown and repudiated for good — tribal 
war, occult practices, witchcraft, arson, poisoned arrows, poison cup, etc. 
Even some Christians have returned to depravity. Most discouraging!" 
Dr. Fulton had also visited First Church in the past to spread the word 
about world missions. 

Upon Dr. Moffett's return, he gave several lectures at the church and 
to various civic clubs about his adventure. He showed slides that he had 
taken of the natives and the countryside, but he never returned to the 
Congo. Within a few weeks, Dr. Moffett was soon back in the routine 
that he had grown to love. He changed the Wednesday night prayer ser- 


vice to Wednesday prayer luncheons, which broadened the church's out- 
reach program and opened the service to those outside First Church's 
membership, particularly to businessmen who could walk from the then 
thriving downtown area. He had found a good fit for himself with the 
church and the community. 

Although Dr. Moffett's schedule allowed for very little leisure time, he 
joined the Gastonia Country Club and played golf. He enjoyed hunting 
and fishing trips with some of his church members. On one of the fishing 
trips to the Outer Banks, he was staying in a cabin belonging to Dr. Ben 
Dawsey and Wilson Setzer, who were both members of the First United 
Methodist Church of Gastonia. Dr. Moffett was being accompanied by 
Dr. Gene Woody, Dr. Don Lackey, and Dr. W. W (Dub) Dickson. Dick- 
son had just been elected a deacon. Dr. Moffett said to Dickson with mock 
seriousness, "Let me refresh your memory about the duties of a deacon. It 
means to be a servant and I want my coffee brought to me at five a.m." 

Gentlemen of the church, 1965. Left to right: John R. Falls (back), Trigger Workman, 
T. M. Mackorell, David Yarbrough, John Peden, B. E. Smith. 


Dr. Moffett often showed his sense of humor. Once he borrowed 
church member Craig Watson's luxury Rolls Royce automobile to play a 
trick on his friend, the Reverend Dr. Warner Hall, who was senior min- 
ister of Covenant Presbyterian in Charlotte. Both had been to Scotland 
on visits. He called Hall to ask him to go to lunch and told him he would 
pick him up at noon in front of the Tate-Brown men's clothing store on 
busy Tryon Street in downtown Charlotte. Dr. Moffett had timed his ar- 
rival so the car would draw lots of attention from the lunchtime crowds. 
When Dr. Moffett drove up in the Rolls, Hall was astounded. "Where 
did you get this car?" he asked, and Dr. Moffett coolly replied, "My flock 
has been good to me lately. What has yours done for you?" 

Hall returned the favor once, stop- 
ping by the First Church office in 1966 
to report that the cross atop the steeple 
had been bent. It indeed had been dam- 
aged by wind or lightning. He jokingly 
asked Dr. Moffett if the damage had 
been done by a strong wind or by Dr. 
Moffett's preaching and if the cross was 
"hanging its head in shame or in loving 

Dr. Moffett's congregation did give 
him several new cars over the years. It 
was the custom of the church not only 
to show appreciation but to assure that 
the minister had reliable transportation. 
For many years, W B. Garrison solic- 
ited individuals for money to buy the 
cars. After so long a time, he turned this 
task over to George Henry and Duke 
Kimbrell. Henry said later that his big- 

Cross on our steeple bent by 65-mph winds, 
February 1966. 


gest problem was not in collecting the money, but having some members 
become upset because they were left out of the solicitation. 

In earlier days, Elder Ralph Dickson Sr. collected money from the men 
of the church between Sunday school and church services. They typically 
stood and visited under the big oak trees on Marietta Street. Important 
news was usually accompanied with the words, "It came from 'under the 

With the passing of the old church building, another Gastonia tradi- 
tion also disappeared, the ritual of the main-line churches downtown tim- 
ing the ringing of their bells on Sunday morning just before nine o'clock. 
A few minutes before the appointed hour, the bells would be rung first at 
one church, followed by the others. The First Church bell was moved to 
the new church location and today is the top bell of the carillon tolling 
the hours each day. 

Dr. Moffett was known for his work in the Gastonia community with 
race relations and in the South. He was one of the few white Presbyterian 
ministers who had taken part in one of the first historic series of lectures 
for African-American pastors in May 1953 at Stillman College at Tusca- 
loosa, Alabama. In the fall of 1963, Dr. Moffett was appointed by Mayor 
Dan Gunter as the single white minister on the Human Relations Com- 
mittee in Gastonia. First Church lay leader Bynum Carter also served on 
the panel. 

As in other cities and towns across the South, racial unrest was threat- 
ening to explode in Gastonia. The first sit-in had been held in Greensboro 
in i960, and protest marches were being held in Charlotte, Durham, and 
Raleigh. In Gastonia, after Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from the Bir- 
mingham jail was published in mid-April 1963, leaders of a group of about 
fifty in Gastonia announced their intention to march to city hall to de- 
mand desegregation of public facilities and the opening of job opportuni- 
ties for black people in the city. In Gastonia, a few leading black minis- 
ters called off a planned demonstration but presented the city with a list 
of seven sectors deemed appropriate for prompt desegregation, including 
taking down "white only" signs at public places. It was at this time that 


Dr. Moffett was named to the Human Relations Committee as it strug- 
gled with keeping the peace in the city. He distributed copies of King's 
Birmingham letter to all members of the Ministerial Association. 

In an interview with the Gastonia Gazette, Dr. Moffett said, "The ra- 
cial problem has given Gastonia a stern test. Gastonia received a blackeye 
during the infamous strike violence years ago (1929). I was living in Da- 
vidson as a student then but remember that the city got a reputation of 
being a rough place." The city now had the opportunity to work out its 
racial problems in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, he said. "We can re- 
store our good name and this in turn would be a foundation for building 
up our city to its rightful place." 

"I have faith in the church and when the chips are down and the crises 
seem insurmountable, the church has always come through," Dr. Moffett 
said. "It will come through again in the racial issue." Under Dr. Moffett 
and Bynum Carter's leadership, the Session at First Church had passed 
a resolution on September 9, 1963, to let it be known that the deacons 
would seat any person of any race in any pew for worship services. It was 
approved despite the objection of at least one member of Session. 

Some of the black leaders considered Dr. Moffett "one of our best 
friends in the civil rights struggle," according to the book Spindles and 
Spires. The book, published in 1976, gave credit to Dr. Moffett for his 
leadership in civil rights in Gastonia during the tense time in 1963. One 
of the authors was Donald W. Shriver Jr. who had pastored the Linwood 
Presbyterian Church in Gastonia from 1956 to 1959. He had left to earn 
his Ph.D. at Harvard University, had taught religious studies for a few 
years, and then had become president of Union Theological Seminary in 
New York City. "We have observed . . . the leadership of certain white 
ministers and laity in helping to shape agendas for decision-making in 
the local white power structure," the authors of Spindles and Spires wrote, 
"and one example of such a leader was the pastor of the affluent First Pres- 
byterian Church, Dr. Harry M. Moffett." 

A Gastonia businessman who was chairman of the Human Relations 
Committee in 1963 said Dr. Moffett's leadership in integrating the YMCA, 
movie theaters, and restaurants showed the way to other members of the 


committee to take the same role. "It took courage, and the Reverend Dr. 
Moffett led the way." 

Shriver's book recounts that Dr. Moffett was asked by the Gaston 
County Democratic Party to deliver a eulogy for John F. Kennedy after 
Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. Dr. Moffett used the occasion 
to address the leadership of the community about, among several sub- 
jects, how Kennedy had fought for the 

historically discriminated-against minority. Held in subtle bondage 
to poverty, through limited educational and economic opportunity 
and discriminatory laws, their plight is supported by a vast complex 
of entrenched fears and privileges, of submerged guilt and open 
hate, of deep frustrations and accepted prejudices. Here, in this con- 
flict, the fundamental principles of our constitutional democratic 
government are locked in a deadly struggle in which, not only our 
national respect for law, order and justice but our influence and 
leadership of the people and nations struggling for life and liberty in 
our world are in serious jeopardy. 

The book said Dr. Moffett's address "was a singularly rare, intellectually 
complex, and politically sensitive view of the uses and abuses of dishar- 
mony in human social affairs." 

Dr. Moffett had shown his leadership in race relations early on. In a 
January 17, i960, sermon, he said, "We who live in the South live in a vola- 
tile situation out of which there must come some solution in the living to- 
gether of the two races that make up this section of our country. What do 
we want? Just nothing to happen? We dare not face it. We just hope and 
pray that it will continue. We live in dread fear of rockets and hydrogen 
bombs and all the things that can happen . . . (There is an) awakening in- 
terest in religion but church is the most difficult place to change because 
we want it to be like it was when we were children. But it must change. It 
must bring a light into the world or face the darkness." 

Dr. Moffett also was active in the Gastonia Rotary Club, and in ad- 
dition to his membership on the Board of World Missions, he served on 
the board of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, where his friend 


Dr. James A. Jones was president. As a trustee at Union, Dr. Moffett was 
leading one of the small discussion groups that trustees conducted with 
students. One of the students said, "Dr. Moffett, I have heard that the 
Presbyterian Church United States is controlled by a hierarchy of four or 
five ministers. Is this true?" Dr. Moffett replied, "Absolutely, and you are 
looking at one of them." 

Although Dr. Moffett had told members of the pulpit committee that 
he would stav seven or ei°;ht vears, leaders of the church had convinced 
him to stav at least until the new church was fully funded. That finally 
occurred in the spring of 1966, and the church was formally dedicated on 
June 19 of that year. Dr. Moffett marked the occasion with a sermon titled 
"A House Built with Hands." He recounted the history of the church and 
said, "The dedication of this inspiring building, free of debt within seven 
years' time, speaks for itself. Only the commitment, loyalty and unity of 
a great congregation supporting their chosen leaders could have brought 
about so outstanding an achievement so swiftly." 

The hours required in the demanding job as senior minister eventu- 
ally began to take their toll on Dr. Moffett. In March 1967, Fred Smyre 
Jr., still chairman of the Steering Committee, recommended that the Ses- 
sion grant Dr. Moffett an immediate ten-day leave of absence on advice 
of Dr. Moffett's physician. Smyre also moved that Dr. Moffett's vacation 
be extended from one month to seven weeks, including one week of study 
leave, and that once each month Dr. Moffett be encouraged and allowed 
to take three consecutive days off "completely away from his administra- 
tive and pastoral duties." The Session approved each recommendation 
unanimously. Despite the changes, Dr. Moffett continued a torrid pace, 
and finally he tendered his resignation to the congregation on July 30, 
1967, to be effective on August 29. He became senior minister of Preston 
Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, although he would return 
at least once every year for several years to take Outer Banks fishing trips 
with his Gastonia buddies. 

When Dr. Moffett died in February of 1983 at the age of seventy-two, 
the Gastonia Gazette remembered him in an editorial as having pro- 
vided "inspired leadership ... in troubled times." The editorial said, "Dr. 
Moffett not only was an able and effective preacher (seldom did he use 


notes), but he had a fine tuning for the needs of other people. He served 
on the local human relations commission during some trying times and 
was instrumental in helping to bridge the gap of misunderstanding that 
appeared back then. . . . He served his church and his fellowman for 40 
years, and he will be missed." 

Dr. Moffett is remembered at First Church as an outstanding, dedi- 
cated Christian leader. He kept the lay leaders working and achieving 
the various tasks of building, financing, and moving this great church 
with very little deep unrest. As a member recalled, "Dr. Moffett could 
persuade you to do things you did not want to do and be happy about it 
when you finished." 

O God, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed 
the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you 
are God. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the 

Not because we are wise or good do we call upon you, but be- 
cause we faintly understand how little we know, and because one 
thing we know far too well, that we are not pure enough to look 
upon you. Come to us in our great unworthiness. Amen. 

— From a prayer of intercession by the Reverend Mr. Frank 
Mayes, associate pastor, ip8o—ip8p 


Chapter Seven 


But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and 
thou art our potter and we are all the work of thy hand. 

— Isaiah 64:8 

If Dan LaFar Jr. had not been persistent, the Reverend James Gordon 
Stuart may never have agreed to succeed Dr. Harry Moffett as senior 
minister at Gastonia's First Presbyterian Church. After Dr. Moffett left, 
LaFar was named to chair the new pulpit committee. In that capacity, he 
asked the Reverend Jim Fogartie, pastor of Myers Park Presbyterian in 
Charlotte, for the names of possible replacements. Fogartie recommended 
Stuart. By coincidence, LaFar had heard Dr. Stuart preach a few years 
earlier at Sardis Presbyterian in Charlotte, and he had been impressed. 
Members of the pulpit committee traveled to Sardis to hear Stuart preach 
several times and then invited him to deliver a sermon at First Church in 
Gastonia before asking him to take the senior minister's post. But Stuart 
turned down the offer, saying he had decided to stay at Sardis, where he 
had been since 1962. 

The committee pursued other candidates, but LaFar and another 
search committee member, Landon Thompson, asked Fogartie for an- 
other suggestion. Fogartie said to ask Dr. Stuart again. This time Stuart 
accepted, and the congregation called him on November 10, 1968. 

It proved to be a good fit. Dr. Stuart was to head First Church for 
nineteen years before retiring in February 1988. During his tenure, he led 


the church to a new level of ministry. This ministry included the election 
of the first female elders and deacons, the inititation of the Covenant Vil- 
lage project, the creation of the Presbyterian Endowment Trust (PET), 
the establishment of the columbarium, improvement of the youth pro- 
grams, and the introduction of new member-assimilation classes. In fact, 
in 1979 he was able to use the establishment of Covenant Village as the 
basis for his Doctor of Ministry thesis at McCormick Theological Semi- 
nary in Chicago. 

James Gordon Stuart was a Scot not only in name, but also in church 
polity. He was an admired preacher who spoke from the pulpit with au- 
thority and great Presbyterian style. Dr. Stuart was a self-described "team 
builder." He ran the church administratively with successful associate 
ministers serving with him. Ralph Bright, Frank Mayes, Pete Carruthers, 
and Stephen Caddell brought new and successful programs to the church 

Communicants Class, April 11, 1968. First row: Cathy Owen, Terry Forrest, Joe Get- 
tys, Wynn Gibbs, Skip Berryman, Glen Harris, Ralph Dickson III. Standing: Connie 
Dickson, Holly Williams, Ruth Reid, Dr. Ben Lacy, Rev. John Kimbirl, Nancy Zeig- 
ler, Bruce Wilkie, Nancy Talley, John Templeton, Richard Williams, Bill Love. 


The Stuart family, 1978. Sitting: Tyler, Mary Beth, Jim. Standing: Jeb, Liz, Leslie. 

such as Intentional Christian Experience (ICE), Professional Counseling 
Services, and additional Christian education programs. Dr. Stuart was 
also a gifted moderator of Session. Often the Session minutes reflect a dif- 
ference between his vision and the elders' caution, but Dr. Stuart, with 
great aplomb, yielded to Session authority. That wisdom meant that deci- 
sions were borne by the Session and the moderator and consequently were 
trusted by the congregation. He knew that a team was a strong imple- 
ment in church administration, and he was a master at building a fair and 
approved one. Dr. Stuart thought the more people served on committees 
and were involved in congregational life, the better for the church. It was 
his wish not to control the church, but to guide it. 

Stuart had a warm approachability that blended him with the congre- 
gation and community rather than lifting him above it. He had an iden- 
tity with his parishioners that presented him as compassionate and psy- 
chologically sensitive. This quality allowed him to be the inspiration and 
imagination behind Covenant Village. 



At the time he decided to accept the call to First Church, Dr. Stuart 
was forty-four years old. He and his wife, Mary Beth, had four children — 
a son, James Gordon (Jeb) Jr., and daughters Kathryn Elizabeth, Leslie 
Anne, and Tyler Leigh. (Tyler Stuart Bullock, her husband, Dale, and 
their three children are First Church members today.) 

Dr. Stuart said he turned down the initial offer from First Church be- 
cause he felt he had more to do at Sardis, a growing suburban church in 
southeastern Charlotte. But when LaFar approached him a second time, 
he reconsidered the needs of the Gastonia church and saw a place for his 
style of ministry. He said the fact that First Church came back to him 
proved the pulpit committee members knew what they wanted. Stuart 
said, "It's just an exceptional church, and there may have been some Provi- 
dence in all of this." 

After visiting the first time in Gastonia, Stuart said he came away im- 
pressed with the church facilities, congregation, and leadership. The lead- 
ers knew how to manage, and they knew how to project and come up 
with the bottom line. Stuart knew about the bottom line, because be- 
fore he became a minister, he had been an accountant. After receiving 
his bachelor's degree at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, he had 
worked with his brother three years and planned to join him in busi- 
ness as Stuart and Stuart, Certified Public Accountants. But his service 
in World War II caused him to change his mind. "I was a navigator in 
the war and I had seen death and destruction," Stuart said. "I saw a lot of 
things that really bothered me and I began to see man's inhumanity to- 
ward his fellow man." Stuart flew thirty missions on a B-17 bomber air- 
plane with the Fifteenth Air Force, stationed in Italy. 

After his discharge, Stuart returned to Mississippi but decided to make 
a career change. "Politically, I just didn't like what I saw in Mississippi 
and I wanted to see if I could help to heal humanity, so I went into the 
ministry." He entered Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Geor- 
gia, graduating in 1952. He then spent two years as assistant minister at 
Peachtree Road Presbyterian in Atlanta. In 1954 Stuart entered a gradu- 
ate program at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where part 
of his experience included pastoral counseling in a mental hospital. "I 


learned much in the mental hospital in Newark, New Jersey, which aug- 
mented my theological studies," Stuart said. 

A lot of the times those people were there because they couldn't find 
any support or reinforcement or any love elsewhere. I remember that 
the psychiatrist I was working under said, "If you damned ministers 
ever had any love in your church, you would reach down and support 
people like this, and we wouldn't have to work with them." He said, 
"Love is the only thing you talk about in the church, but I don't see 
you operating consistently with it." I will never forget that. 

Stuart left Princeton in 1955 to become pastor of the new St. Andrews 
Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, leaving three years later 
to return to Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta as associate minister. After 
four years he was called to Sardis as senior minister. 

Stuart said he felt called to First Church of Gastonia because he be- 
lieved he was needed to launch programs that would complement the 
beautiful, modern complex. "It was obvious Harry Moffett had done an 
excellent job leading the congregation through the construction of the 
church. The challenge that lay ahead was the development of programs to 
utilize the new facility. This project was energizing to me," he said. Stuart 
said he believed the church needed to develop a new mission statement to 
guide the programs in their new buildings, and the membership seemed 
inspired by the new project. 

Along the way, Stuart said the church leadership instigated two ser- 
vices, one in the chapel in addition to the regular service in the sanctuary, 
to accommodate members who wanted flexible Sunday schedules. At first 
the early chapel service was only in summer, but after three years, it was 
extended for the entire year. 

When Stuart accepted the call to Gastonia it was a time of upheaval in 
America. Riots had erupted in several cities after the assassination of civil 
rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Protests over the war in Vietnam 
were spreading on college campuses. Gastonia was not the scene of any 
major eruptions, but the city could not escape the influence of the ma- 


jor social changes. Fortunately, church and city leaders provided excellent 
leadership through these unsettling times. 

In his 1979 doctoral thesis, Stuart described the sociological setting 
this way: "The general climate of the Church in the late 1960's, when the 
writer accepted his call to the First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, was 
characterized by diversity, unrest, and struggle as to its understanding 
of mission." He said such factors as the campus unrest over the Vietnam 
War, the struggle as to the priority given to the church's involvement in 
social action, the rise of the youth culture, and busing as a means of inte- 
grating public schools were emotional issues being debated vigorously in 
the various courts of the Presbyterian church. 

Stuart said he found the youth department in need of resuscitation 
when he took over in 1968, so he plunged right in — even playing volleyball 
with the teenagers. Then in 1970 the Reverend Ralph Bright was called as 
assistant minister, and he proved to be a popular youth leader until he left 
in 1974 to go to a church in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. 

The new-member assimilation classes began in 1969 to help prospec- 
tive congregants learn about the church's history, programs, and Presby- 
terian polity. Five consecutive sessions during Sunday school hours were 
devoted to this very informative program. The sessions were designed to 
help interested persons make informed decisions about membership in 
First Church. (One joins through profession of faith, transfer of church 
letter, or reaffirmation of faith.) 

In August 1974, Stuart and the Session decided to have the congrega- 
tion enter into a process called goal-setting. Stuart noted in his thesis, 
"The unique aspect of goal-setting is that it affords joint ownership in the 
building of the Mission and helps move people from individuality to cor- 
porateness." Facilitated by Clem Lambert, executive presbyter of Con- 
cord Presbytery, the congregation held several meetings to identify a set 
of joint goals. To help bridge the generation gap that usually exists in any 
church, Stuart called upon Rick Smyre to chair the goal-setting process. 
A young elder, he was the great-grandson of Alfred Monroe Smyre, one of 
the church's founders in 1882. "In 1974, we had the congregation come to- 
gether with the deacons and elders in small groups," Smyre recalled. "We 
had two weekends. The first weekend we had about 150 people and the 


Pete Carruthers and 1975 Communicants Class visit the Capitol and Representative 
James Broyhill. 

second weekend we had 400 people. You could see the dynamics because 
word had gotten around that this was real." 

Smyre said sixty-four different goals were identified, and he presented 
the results to the Session. "We had a variety and a range of different types 
of ideas that emerged from this dialogue," he said. Once the goals were 
identified, votes from each participant were tabulated and weighted for 


priority. The congregation put increased emphasis on Christian educa- 
tion. The final report showed that the number one choice was "to ex- 
amine the needs and interests of the congregation in regard to curricu- 
lum and to project courses pertinent to all age groups, such as Church 
doctrine, and more Bible study." Number two was to establish training 
to ensure properly qualified teachers. The third was to organize more 
meaningful groupings of adult and youth classes. Fourth was to study in- 
terest in added worship services, such as early Sunday informal family ser- 
vice. Other priorities included adding activities for the total congregation 
at family night suppers, initiating programs for single adults, improving 
communications, and so on. "The Session learned it had to listen to the 
congregation," Stuart said. "It changed the temperament of the church. 
We had established goals that the congregation wanted us to meet. It was 

Stuart felt the congregation must have ownership in the program. He 
said then, "If the members do not feel ownership, it will not fly." He in- 
volved many volunteers and committee members. He knew the Session 
was the governing body in the church, and he wanted it to make the deci- 
sions, even when he did not always agree. 

Although a feasibility study for building a church retirement home 
failed to make the top twenty goals, it attracted attention from Stuart and 
other leaders. "The needs of the aged were not found among the highest 
ranked goals," Stuart wrote in his thesis. "This was largely due to the nu- 
merically few elderly involved in the process." The original group study- 
ing the feasibility of Covenant Village consisted of Stuart, W. D. Lawson 
III, W. W. Dickson, Craig Fielding, and Charles Massey. 

But the fact that the congregation had been able to come together to 
focus on various needs made a difference. "Covenant Village would not 
have been created without the goal-setting process," Stuart said. The pro- 
cess was slow going at first, Stuart wrote, primarily because the concept 
was considered impossible to achieve and "passed over as an expensive al- 
ternative to their [the elderly] present lifestyle or to a nursing home de- 
signed to be the last stop before the mortician." 

"We didn't have any kind of retirement facility in this county," said 
W D. Lawson III, the first president of Covenant Village. 


The feasibility study was financed by a bequest R. E. Caldwell made 
to First Church in memory of his mother. The R. E. Caldwell Benevo- 
lent Fund was named to honor Mr. Caldwell because of his original gift. 
The residue helped establish the Benevolent Fund at Covenant Village af- 
ter Covenant opened. Caldwell was a native Gastonian who worked most 
of his adult life as controller for LaFar Industries, Inc. He is remembered 
as a quiet, unassuming man, who was very exacting in his life. Caldwell 
never married, and upon his death in 1977, $85,000, a major portion of 
his estate, was left to the church. His instructions were that the Session 
use the funds to memorialize the name of his mother, Cordelia Morrow 
Caldwell. Today, visitors drive on Cordelia Caldwell Circle through the 
grounds of Covenant Village, and they may view a memorial plaque to 
her at the porte-cochere. After the Caldwell funds were secured for the 
research, two years went by before a search was begun in April 1979 for a 
professional consulting firm. David LaFar, president of the Covenant Vil- 
lage board of directors for ten years, was also a key person in the develop- 
ment of the Benevolent Fund, through his personal donations and the so- 
licitation of gifts from others. 

"The original concept was to be a Presbyterian Village sponsored by 
the church," Lawson said. "But we realized there was not enough capi- 
tal potential in our church to do what we wanted to do, plus we felt we 
wanted it more community oriented. So with that, we approached eight 
other churches of different denominations, Baptist, Lutheran, Method- 
ist, Episcopal, and so on. We had nine different churches involved." In 
addition to First Presbyterian of Gastonia, the churches were First Pres- 
byterian of Belmont, First Presbyterian of Mount Holly, First Presbyte- 
rian of Kings Mountain, First Baptist of Gastonia, First United Method- 
ist of Gastonia, Holy Trinity Lutheran of Gastonia, St. Mark's Episcopal 
of Gastonia, and First Presbyterian of Clover, South Carolina. The name 
was changed from Presbyterian Village to Covenant Village because of 
this widened involvement. 

Lawson, one of the first people to get involved in the concept, said pros- 
pects did not appear favorable. "People felt it was going to be very diffi- 
cult to raise two and a half million dollars to get it going," he said. "That 
was just going to cover the cost of the nursing care, but we were going to 


Covenant Village 
groundbreaking, May 
28, 1981. Dr. James 
Stuart with W. D. 
Lawson III. 

Residents Lydia Ra- 
gan and Betty Kiser 
visit in the Covenant 
Village reception area. 


sell the apartments — just apartments at that time, no cottages — plus [use] 
loans we had from the banks." He said seven banks in Gaston County 
agreed at that time to underwrite the loan. Banker Harold Sumner was 
not a member of First Presbyterian Church at the time. However, he was 
the banking representative who coordinated the loans for the project. He 
later joined First Presbyterian Church. 

"I was the first president of Covenant Village and tried to get at least 
twelve people to be fundraising chairman but they wouldn't do it," Law- 
son said. "So I told Jim Stuart I would step down as president. 'You be- 
come president and I will become the fundraising chairman.'" 

In June 1978, the project almost died, Stuart wrote in his thesis. A pre- 
liminary survey of support among seventy-seven church members and 
community leaders for a proposed campaign of $4 million showed dis- 
appointing results. But the committee changed courses after that and 
adopted a new financial approach, based upon one used by founders of a 
retirement village in Fayetteville, North Carolina. That approach started 
with potential residents of the retirement village paying a so-called found- 
er's fee as they signed up. When about two-thirds of the rooms had been 
committed, the balance of funds would be borrowed from banks and con- 
struction would begin. 

Lawson said the real key to the fundraising came when longtime 
church member Duke Kimbrell, the chief executive officer of Parkdale 
Mills, agreed to give $50,000 a year for five years. "That gave us incen- 
tive and motivation to go ahead and raise the funds," Lawson said. First 
Church member John Akers, chief executive officer of Akers Motor Lines, 
also gave generously of his time and money for the project. 

After looking at several possible sites in the county, the committee set- 
tled on thirty-three acres on Robinwood Road owned by F. L. (Rick) 
Smyre III. The price was $90,000, and the committee members agreed 
to personally raise the purchase price, if it became necessary. "We wanted 
to be located geographically where it would be not too far from shopping, 
hospital, doctors, public places," Lawson said. "As it turned out, this lo- 
cation was much more esthetically desirable because of the rolling nature 
than if we had a plain flat piece of property on some commercial street." 

Several problems about how to make the first payment of $12,000 on 


the Smyre property by January 1979 arose before the fledging corporation 
became the surprise recipient of $30,000 from the estate of the late Freda 
Goforth Spencer. She was the widow of Gray Spencer and aunt of mem- 
ber Fay Spencer Bonsac, who died in July 2004, and great- aunt of Dr. Ar- 
thur Spencer III and Lee Bonsac Matheny. 

The committee members visited several existing retirement places. 
"Our idea was if you ever moved into Covenant Village you would never 
have to leave," Lawson said. "We wanted people to be comfortable and 
never have to worry about being 'kicked out.' As a matter of fact, we have 
a fund that in the event someone's finances are depleted, the fund takes 
care of their monthly fee." Called the Benevolent Fund, it is administered 
by the Covenant Village Board of Directors. More than $800,000 has 
been bequeathed by estates, including those of First Church members 
Margaret Rankin Beam, Rebecca Stowe McLean, Emma Anderson, Eliz- 
abeth Matthews Welton, and Clara Baity Sparrow, who were Covenant 
Village residents. 

Stuart wrote in his thesis that he thought the concept finally succeeded 
because, "They [older adults] realized that the church did care for them, 
not as a special mission, but because they were people. The writer does 
not believe that the retirement concept is designed as a replacement of the 
integration of older adults into family life. He does, however, note that the 
extended family is disintegrating rapidly, and he believes that the retire- 
ment home offers day-to-day contact with persons of one's own age." 

Covenant Village finally opened in August 1982, eight years after the 
retirement village concept had surfaced from the goal-setting process. A 
plaque at the entrance of Covenant Village incorporates the initial reason- 
ing for the project. 

In the beginning entrance fees ranged from $21,500 for a single-room 
unit to $65,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Cottages opened in 1989, 
with initial entrance fees of $92,000. By 2004, 270 people lived in the 140 
apartments and 42 cottages. Marketing for Covenant Village was han- 
dled by a new company called Spectrum, under the leadership of David 

Through it all, Dr. Stuart kept his sense of humor. Trip Stewart recalls 
the day she was dusting erasers at the curb in front of the church office 


The gate beside 
the Covenant 
Village guard- 
house notes its 
in 1982. 

when Stuart happened to drive up. "I'm glad to see at least one Presbyte- 
rian on her knees," Dr. Stuart quipped. 

Another side benefit of the goal-setting process in 1974 was the upgrad- 
ing of the youth programs at the church. "I spent a lot of time with the 
young people at first," Dr. Stuart recalled. "Then Pete Carruthers was 
called in September 1974 as associate minister for youth. He was right out 
of Columbia Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, with a Doctor of Ministry 
degree. He had a lot of ability. We really worked as a team and divided 
up the responsibilities. He was more of an associate than just a youth 



Associate Pastor Pete Carruthers visiting Brice T. Dickson in the hospital. 

Carruthers developed a senior high program called Intentional Chris- 
tian Experience, or ICE, which included mission trips to remote settings 
where the youth participated in repairing houses of impoverished fami- 
lies. Their first trip was to Kentucky, where they met Mrs. Patsy Brat- 
ton Turner, a home missionary in poor rural areas who was still active, 
although considerably slowed, at age 102. She had been guest speaker for 
the adult Sunday school classes at First Church in the 1940s. She spoke of 
raising money to build much-needed churches and said, "I never asked 
them for a penny, but I sure did evermore tell them what we were praying 

Carruthers organized a youth car wash to help pay for the Kentucky 
trip and others. He also started Children's Church, which evolved into to- 
day's A Time for Young Disciples. 

Three other areas flourished under Dr. Stuart's leadership: the Presby- 
terian Endowment Trust (PET), and music and drama programs. 

Longtime member John Akers first suggested what became PET in 1977 


by collecting several available individual funds and establishing an endow- 
ment for the church. The son of a Presbyterian minister, Akers started his 
career as a teacher but became a trucking magnate, establishing Akers 
Motor Lines with his brothers. He was a talented businessman and a vi- 
sionary, gifts he shared with his church. 

PET received its initial gift in 1980 after the church was named in the 
will of A. B. O'Neal, a former member who had died in Pennsylvania. The 
church newsletter reported in its June 5, 1980, edition, "Mr. O'Neal [had] 
called to request the exact date of his baptism and church membership. 
After considerable research his name was located on the record books of 
1916 (recorded 64 years ago in Dr. Henderlite's handwriting). Impressed 

Pete Carruthers leads a children's service, 1977. 



with the kind cooperation he received from Justus Cathey, and retain- 
ing a warm spot in his heart for the church, Mr. O'Neal made the church 
one of his beneficiaries." Justus Cathey was a beloved and efficient long- 
time church secretary always remembered for her love of the church and 
its people. She was never too busy to greet any who came in seeking an- 
swers or assistance. 

Although it had been established in 1977, PET became very active for 
the first time in 1988 when Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Robinson Sr. moved to 
Covenant Village and gave their home on New Hope Road to the church. 
The house was sold at auction and the funds went to PET. John Akers 
was an original member of the PET Funding Committee when it was 
formed in 1988, along with committee chair Sally Robinson and members 
Bynum Carter, Tom Efird, Kerry Jarman, Gene Matthews, Pat Morrow, 
Martha Taylor, and Bob Wren. Other major contributions to PET over 
the next ten years were from the estates of Margaret Rankin Beam, Frank 
W. Davis, Wayne Howe, Carroll Harmon, and James Henry. 

By the end of 2003, the Presbyterian Endowment Trust had distributed 
a total of $2,624,747. None of the PET funds can be used for annual op- 
erating expenses. Several funds come under the PET umbrella, including 
the Frank Davis Children's Fund; the Groves Fund, which is designated 
for Crisis Assistance Ministry; the Pearl Wilson Fund for Missions; and 
the Torrence Fund, which has paid for church projects such as the sanctu- 
ary sound system, the courtyard landscaping, handbells, liturgical para- 
ments, and special benevolent causes. The Presbyterian Weekday School 
Endowment Fund is also administered by PET. It was established by Bev- 
erly Stowe from memorials for the Reverend Joe Stowe. The largest dis- 
bursement from the trust came in 2000, when it contributed $300,000 
to the largely African-American congregation's Third Street Presbyterian 
Church Building Fund. 

PET also contributed $50,000 toward the initial funding of Southmin- 
ster Presbyterian Church, organized by the Presbytery of Western North 
Carolina. First Church helped survey potential members and provided 
office space for the minister, the Reverend Jerry Bron. It opened in 1994 
with 203 charter members and their children. By 2004 it had 384 mem- 
bers. Several First Church members helped provide a nucleus of charter 


The Presbyterian Trotters at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

members, including Blanche and Charles Wetzell, Susan and John How- 
ren, Laura and Robbie Lineberger, Dwayne and Sarah Fink, Becky and 
Dave Maxon, Ann Neal, and Pat Sudderth. 

Dr. Stuart also encouraged the church in other areas. First Church's 
drama offerings were unique in the city. "We started a drama depart- 
ment back in the 1970s," said former longtime member Charlie Wetzell, 
who was interviewed for this book before he died in 2003. "We thought it 
would be a good way to impart the Christian message." 

Wetzell and the late Gunnar Nielsen were the initiators. The first 
drama was Noah, performed in 1971, in which the children dressed up as 
animals. "It was a little unusual in a Presbyterian church to have drama, 
instead of a Christmas pageant," Wetzell recalled. Nielsen directed The 
Prophet and the Carpenter in 1972, and it was reprised at Montreat. In 
1973, the troupe at First Church produced Adam and Eve. The committee 
staged The Sound of Music in March 1985, attracting audiences of 1,100. 
Garland Atkins assisted Nielsen as musical director. 

Other productions included a dinner theater in July 1985, Amahl and 



the Night Visitors in January 1986, A Nite of Comedy in September 1986, 
and Jesus of Nazareth in January 1987. There were others, many directed by 

There were some humorous moments during Dr. Stuart's ministry at 
First Church. Members recalled live nativity scenes, including one where 
the youth choir members were dressed as angels and looked down from 
the roof. At a later nativity scene when one Mary was substituted for an- 
other, a little boy, Jim Henry, blurted out, "You're going to have a baby, 


In addition to the efforts by PET, the church also provided rent-free 
office space from 1990 to 1998 for another organization, The Carrie E. 
and Lena V. Glenn Foundation, which had been established in 1971 by the 
two sisters who had joined First Church in 1906. The trustees of the foun- 
dation had been meeting at the church since 1974 and paid a member of 
the church staff to provide clerical support. The foundation started with 
$25,000, and at the death of the last surviving sister in 1986, $2.9 million 
was added. In 2004, the foundation had assets of about $7.6 million and 
had given away a total of $4.3 million in 524 grants with special emphasis 
on education, medical care, and religious and social concerns. 

Dr. Stuart was at the helm in 1982 when First Church observed its 
centennial. A series of celebratory events were scheduled throughout the 
year. That October, a special hymn festival and services featured a home- 
coming for Dr. Irving M. Ellis and Dr. Harry Moffett and addresses by 
Dr. Ernest Campbell, Dr. William Oglesby Jr., and Dr. David H. Burr. 
Campbell was the former pastor of Riverside Church in New York City 
and a frequent speaker on national programs. Oglesby was an endowed 
professor at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, and Burr was 
pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem. 

Former First Church music director and organist John Hebblethwaite, 
who served here from 1969 to 1977, returned to introduce "God of All 
Time," a hymn he had written to commemorate the church's centennial. 

The Women of the Church published a centennial cookbook, One Hun- 
dred Years of Cooking, compiling old and new recipes and featuring unique 
illustrations by artist Teresa Myers. 

On the last Sunday of the centennial celebration, the 1962 cornerstone 


was opened and additional memorabilia, describing the church's 1982 
work and witness, was displayed in the Session room and inserted in the 
time capsule. Then the cornerstone was replaced for future generations to 

Also in 1982, the church underwent another round of goal-setting, this 
time focusing on inner-church activity. Rick Smyre was called upon again 
to lead the effort. Coming out of this session, the main goals were a re- 
emphasis on the Bible and on religious instruction. Prayer groups were 
emphasized, and Stuff and Study, a Wednesday night educational and fel- 
lowship opportunity, was offered. Expanded adult education classes for 
Sunday morning church school were added. Worship flourished. 

Dr. Stuart was still First Church's senior pastor in 1983 when the Gen- 
eral Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUS) and the United Pres- 
byterian Church (UPCUSA) met in joint session at Atlanta, Georgia. The 
commissioners voted to reunite the two bodies, which had been sepa- 
rated in the 1800s, and form the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUS A). 
Kitty Mackie was a commissioner elected by Presbytery to this General 

In 1985, a $1.4 million Heritage Fund campaign to refurbish, repair, 
and redecorate the church building, including new paint and carpet in 
the sanctuary, was completed. William H. Keith led the successful cam- 
paign with assistance from a professional fundraiser, Paul Kersher. Linda 
Dixon served as secretary and William C. Ratchford as treasurer. After 
the campaign was over, Dixon accepted the position of church secretary 
and served most capably for fourteen years. 

Three members who became very involved during this era in First Pres- 
byterian's growth and activities were Mr. Harry Cobb, Mr. C. E. "Doc" 
Center, and Mr. Henry Cabaniss. They were immense stewards of the 
church plant, personally repairing plumbing, renovating rooms, and engi- 
neering projects for drama and church-school needs. Henry's wife, Doro- 
thy (also a faithful member), now resides at Covenant Village. Such men 
and personal involvement marked the administrations of our ministers. 

Dr. Stuart announced his retirement in December 1987, to be effective 
February 1988, after nineteen years at First Church. During sabbaticals, 
the church provided the means for the Stuarts to travel to Scotland, Italy, 


The 1984 Heritage Fund campaign. Left to right: James B. Call, Duke Kimbrell, Wil- 
liam C. Ratchford, Mrs. H. S. Mackie, David Cline, Mrs. Fred S. Lytle, Douglas 
Crisp, Frank Matthews, Bynum Carter, Ralph Robinson Jr., Robert E. Sumner III, 
and general chairman William H. Keith at the pulpit. 

the Middle East, and other parts of Europe, and on his retirement, the 
church honored him with a generous cash gift. Later the Session named 
him pastor emeritus after he and his wife retired to Blowing Rock. 

Make of your church both a redemptive proclamation of God's 
good neivs in Christ and a courageous champion of justice amid 
the unjust structures of our present world. Above all, give your 
church ears to hear and hearts to respond to "the still, sad music 
of humanity. "Keep her aware of human hurt and despair and 
guide her to be faithful to her trust and to your missions. In Jesus' 
name, Amen. 

— From a prayer of the people, by the Reverend Dr. Douglas 
Aldrich, interim pastor of congregational care, 2002—200$ 


Chapter Eight 


/ have counsel and sound wisdom, I have insight, I have 

— Proverbs 8:14 

"V~W~7bmen have always had a major impact on significant decisions 
W at First Church. In 1884 the Ladies' Aid Society was formed with 
Sarah Lewis Smyre, wife of founding elder Alfred Monroe Smyre, as pres- 
ident. In 1887, the name was changed to the Ladies' Home and Foreign 
Mission Society. By that time it was under the leadership of Susan Rhyne 
Love, the wife of another founder, R. C. G. Love. The society assisted the 
Men's Missionary Society, which was organized in 1889 for the support of 
the Reverend T. R. Sampson, missionary to Greece. By 1905, the name of 
the women's organization had been changed to the Ladies Missionary So- 
ciety with Lela Shuford Reid, the wife of a prominent physician, as presi- 
dent. In 1920, the society adopted the circle plan and became the Women's 
Auxiliary of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. The name was 
changed to Women of the Church (WOC) in 1948 and to Presbyterian 
Women (PW) in 1983. 

"The fact is that women were always every bit as influential in reli- 
gious affairs and causes as the men, except perhaps in primary financial 
matters," said Robert Ragan, former longtime First Church member 
and Gaston County historian. "Their usefulness was mostly behind the 
scenes, but very effective, and their voices were heard individually and 


collectively one way or another in higher council chambers. Their cru- 
sades, and there were many, were usually all-out, and the elders, deacons 
and ministers wisely listened and acted on their behalf." 

During the first half-century in the church's history, the names of sev- 
eral women stand out among those blessed saints who were far ahead of 
their time and made a considerable difference in setting the tone for the 
religious affairs of the church and the advancement of the community. 
They were founders and exponents of the Gastonia Woman's Betterment 
Association, Woman's Auxiliary of the church, foreign mission work, out- 
reach programs, the Sunday school department, Barium Springs Orphan- 
age, Crossnore School, and the Kings Mountain Presbyterial. Under Dr. 
Henderlite and the Reverend Mr. Ellis, women began to become mem- 
bers and even chairpersons of important committees and heads of depart- 
ments that previously had been the domain of the men. 

Sue Gallant Robinson, wife of S. A. Robinson, was one of the early 
leaders. She joined the church in 1893 at the age of fifteen and served 
faithfully until her death in i960. She was president of the Women of 
the Church, recording secretary of the North Carolina Synodical in 1918- 
1921, and president of the Kings Mountain Presbyterial in the 1940s. "Miss 
Sue," as she was known, was also active in the work at Montreat. Her 
summer home, Camp Gallant, was open to members of First Church for 
various conferences. 

Over the years, the Women of the Church provided essential sup- 
port for the minister, the Session, and the Diaconate by calling on all be- 
reaved members, visitors, and new members. The annual reports provide 
not only copious detail of the activity of the various women's circles, but 
also a record of most of the major news of each year. Today Presbyte- 
rian Women continue congregational care by providing meals to bereaved 
families and prayer books to families with new babies. 

The women also regularly honor their own through memorials and 
honorary life memberships. An example of the loving care in memorials 
can be seen in the WOC yearbook collection: 

On May 23, 1945, there passed from this earthly tabernacle the soul 
of Mrs. Hubert Ramseur, to enter into her heavenly tabernacle not 


made with hands. Her heart was full of loving kindness, and her 
hands of tender ministry. She was ever faithful in the performance 
of her duty to her friends, her family and her church. . . . She was 
loved, honored and esteemed by all who knew her. Like her Savior 
she was constantly going about doing good. Truly it can be said, 
"she fought a good fight, she kept the faith, she finished her course." 
And for her it laid up a crown of righteousness that the Righteous 
Judge will give her in that day. 

The language in the certificates of Honorary Life Memberships was 
just as carefully chosen. One presented in May 1953 began, 

It is with appreciation and deep regard that this Life Membership is 
presented to Annie L. P. (Mrs. G. V.) Patterson who has served her 
Master well through many years in innumerable ways throughout 
our whole church. . . . She is now Pastor's Aide and brings to our 
pastor able and ready help in any phase of the work of the women of 
the church. She attended the first Leadership Training School held 
in Montreat 41 years ago and has not missed a Training School since 
that time. 

The certificate then lists Mrs. Patterson's many posts held in the church, 
Presbyterial, and various Presbyterian charities. "She visits the sick, and 
those in trouble, prays with them and for them, always with the great de- 
sire of keeping alive the spiritual life of the church." (A list of all ladies 
who have received life memberships is in the appendix. Today Life Mem- 
berships are presented at the annual Presbyterian Women birthday cele- 
bration in May.) 

First Church became involved in missions during the early ministry of 
the Reverend W. E. Mcllwaine. The Ladies' Home and Foreign Mission- 
ary Society was organized on February 4, 1889. The funds collected were 
expended in the interest of home and foreign missions. 

By 1891, the adult men and women were well organized for effective 
and progressive work, but no effort had been made to organize the chil- 
dren for their training in Christian study and activity. Very early in the 
Reverend C. W. Robinson's pastorate, a Children's Missionary Society 


Our Bloodmobile ladies: Jo Garland, Mary Ann Patrick, Betty Love. 

was organized with Miss Lizzie Adams as lady manager. From this soci- 
ety grew the three successful organizations of young people — the Band 
of Hope, the Willing Workers, and the Westminster League. This is be- 
lieved to be the foundation for today's organization of elementary, mid- 
high, and senior high divisions of church school and youth fellowships. A 
plaque honoring Miss Lizzie Adams is in the Heritage Room. 

The WOC also supported many important causes with particular em- 
phasis on missions in Japan, Korea, Brazil, and the Congo. Major contri- 
butions were made in the 1950s to the Reverend and Mrs. George Thomp- 
son Brown. After the Reverend Ellis resigned in 1950, the Reverend Brown 
served as interim pastor in 1951 and 1952 for First Church, as well as Ad- 
ams Memorial and Linwood Churches and Piedmont Chapel. (Brown 
later became head of the General Assembly Missions Board. The Browns' 
daughter, Mary Brown Bullock, has been president of Agnes Scott Col- 
lege since 1990.) Phil Dunford, a student at Columbia Seminary, assisted 
the Reverend Brown. 

The women also collected special offerings to build furlough homes 
for missionaries in Richmond, Atlanta, Louisville, and Austin. A church 


Dr. John Shaw, medical missionary, and Dr. George Miller in Korea, 1977. 

in Japan was built with proceeds from the sale of beautiful Japanese paper 
napkins. First Church's beloved church secretary, Miss Bess Jackson, pro- 
moted the sales. The Reverend and Mrs. James McAlpine, missionaries 
in Japan, made regular shipments to the church and the lovely packaged 
napkins were sold quickly. They were frequently used by circle hostesses 
during refreshment time. 

Also during the 1950s, First Church sponsored missionaries Dr. Lang- 
don Henderlite in Brazil, the Reverend and Mrs. James McAlpine in Ja- 
pan, the Reverend and Mrs. Vernon S. Anderson in Africa, and Miss 
Clara Fisch in Africa. Occasionally, some of the missionaries would visit 
First Church just as the Andersons did in August 1953, according to the 
WOC yearbook. 

First Church member Helene Keyzer became acquainted with Clar- 
ence and Ruth Durham when she lived in the same town in Soon Chun, 
South Korea, during the 1970s. The church also sponsored orthopedic 
surgeon Dr. John Shaw and his wife Sharon, who worked with physically 



handicapped children in Jeonju, Korea, during the 1970s. Shaw had been 
a resident at the Orthopedic Hospital in Gastonia under First Church 
member Dr. George Miller, who specialized in treating polio victims. Dr. 
and Mrs. Shaw joined First Church and even taught Sunday school. They 
became interested in serving as medical missionaries and were assigned to 
a crippled-children's hospital and orphanage in Jeonju. Dr. Miller and his 
wife Judy, an occupational therapist, corresponded with the Shaws, and 
when Dr. Miller scheduled a trip to a medical meeting in Hong Kong, 
they decided to pay a six-day visit to the Shaws in October and November 
1977 at Jeonju, 120 miles south of Seoul. 

"John was associated with the Jesus Hospital in Jeonju, a Presbyterian 
hospital, which our church helped to raise money to modernize back in 
the sixties," Judy Miller recalled. Sharon worked as an occupational thera- 
pist with the children. They had their two children, Laurie and Michael. 
"We were able to witness firsthand the work that John and Sharon were 
doing in the area and see the type of patients John treated. Many of them 
had the type of polio that had been seen in this country thirty years ear- 
lier. So George was able to bring new techniques to John." 

The Millers brought back a list of 
badly needed supplies that members of 
First Church sent to the Shaws for several 
years until medical missionaries were 
no longer needed in Korea. The Shaws 
now reside in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The church also assisted other phy- 
sicians and dentists from the congrega- 
tion. Dr. Bob Blake, Dr. Ellis Fisher, 
and Dr. Bill Kelly went on medical 
missions, many to Haiti. First Church 
member Dr. Blake has made several trips 
to Haiti to establish and help operate 
Hopital Lumiere, the Hospital of Light, 
using medical equipment and supplies 

r» n u ni r u • ■ j from the old Garrison General Hospi- 

Dr. bob blake, teacher, missionary, and r 

old car enthusiast. tal, which closed in 1976. First Church 


Busy in the sewing room. Seated: Nancy Hunter, Bennie Peden, Burkie White, Louise 
Cathey. Standing: Becky McLean, Phyllis Tucker, Susie Mason, Fannie McLemore. 

has contributed regularly to the missionary work at Hopital Lumiere. For- 
eign Mission work at First Presbyterian always was a strong response to 
the scripture "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel." 

In 1957, the Women of the Church sponsored the Community Kinder- 
garten to serve a portion of Gastonia's black community with Miss Myr- 
tle Hoffman as the teacher. 

In 1961, the members of Women of the Church cleaned furniture from 
the old church before it was moved to the new building. In 1969, Lou- 
ise Drake organized a permanent sewing room, opened in the church 
to help with the Church World Service Clothing appeal. The room has 
been open every Wednesday since then, except in summer months, and 
the women meet to roll bandages, mend clothing, make gifts, and, at the 
same time, have a marvelous morning of fellowship. Thousands of receiv- 
ing blankets with hand-crocheted edges and gowns with colored bindings 
have resulted, in addition to bandages and layettes. 

Dr. Stuart was still at the helm at First Church when the church wel- 



corned its first female elder in March 1969, although the constitution of 
the Presbyterian Church United States had been amended in 1964 to al- 
low women to serve as elders and deacons. Margaret Vaughn Summer- 
ell had been president of the Women of the Church in 1954-1955 and had 
held virtually every other office of any importance in the sixteen years 
she had been a member. Her husband, J. N. Summerell, had helped orga- 
nize the Presbyterian Church in Cramerton before moving to Gastonia 
in 1953. Mrs. Summerell was elected by the congregation on January 26, 
1969, and took her place as an elder at her first Session meeting in March 
of that year to begin a six-year term. The slim, attractive, retired elemen- 
tary school teacher was the only woman among the ten new elders and 
twelve new deacons. Later, Mrs. S. James Brown and Miss Jean Marie 

Eunice Warren Bible Class, Christmas 1969 


Margaret Summerell, elected in 1969 as 
the first woman elder in our church. 

Jean Marie Torrence, elected with Vir- 
ginia Brown in 1972 as the first women 
deacons of the church. 

Torrence were the first two women to be elected to the Board of Deacons 
in 1972. 

Dr. Stuart encouraged the election of women to high posts. "It was 
a controversy, but when you have people like Jim Call at Firestone and 
Leon Alexander out at Wix and people like Ralph Robinson, Frank Mat- 
thews, Bynum Carter, and Duke Kimbrell, these are people who really 
are on the cutting edge," Stuart recalled. "They knew that women had 
a lot to offer. I remember the first [female] elder. She knew how to get 
things done and could stand up intellectually with the men." 

Mrs. Summerell had been nominated by member Helen Marvin, who 
had been elected to the nominating committee for new elders and dea- 
cons by the congregation. Marvin later became elected to the North Caro- 
lina Senate. "I commented that I thought we ought to nominate more 
women and the committee agreed," Marvin recalled. "When I saw the list 
they had only one. The answer I got was that the women had said, 'Oh, 
no you don't want me. Are you sure you don't want my husband?' The 
majority of the women we had suggested refused to be involved." 

In 1971, the WOC adopted a program of community and world service 



Crisis Assistance Ministry. 

that involved raising money to meet short- 
term emergency needs of people in the 
community and taking lunches to shut-ins. 
In 1972, the WOC members started par- 
ticipating in the Meals on Wheels program 
to provide hot meals to the elderly, with 
member Judy Miller leading the way. 

In 1972, the WOC became involved in 
the Cooperative Christian Ministry, which 
was formed by Gastonia churches to meet 
emergency needs. The Gastonia Gazette ac- 
knowledged the church's participation in 
a story about the program. Initially volun- 
teers worked out of First Presbyterian Church, handling cases referred to 
them by the Information and Referral Services of Gaston County, Inc. 
The name of the Cooperative Christian Ministry was changed in 1976 to 
Crisis Assistance Ministry for Christians and Jews of Greater Gastonia, 
Inc. In 1980, Marion Mayes, wife of associate minister the Reverend Frank 
Mayes, became its executive director. It is still very active today, sup- 
ported by First Church, other area churches, and the local synagogue. 

In 1982, as a part of the centennial celebration, the WOC published 
its first cookbook, One Hundred Years of Cooking, which included a brief 
summary of the church history. Mrs. Glen (Lila) King, president of the 
WOC, appointed a capable committee to publish the cookbook. It in- 
cluded favorite recipes of church members. Back then, meal gatherings 
were social occasions of the community as well as the congregation. 

Presbyterian Weekday School teachers shared their children-tested rec- 
ipes, including the one for Stone Soup, excerpted as follows: 

Stone Soup is more than a "recipe" for the pre-school child. It is an 
introduction to the importance of sharing. They realize that often 
in life we need each other, and they receive a warm feeling from this 
realization. You read the book Stone Soup by Marcia Brown to them 
first and discuss it. They also love to act it out and then you ask 
the question, "Would you like to make Stone Soup in our room?" 


They will always eagerly answer, "Yes!" As each child tells you what 
they would like to bring to add to the soup, you feel such a glow 
of sharing and working together. The next day when you prepare 
the soup it is a real joy to watch eighteen busy little four year olds 
scraping carrots, cutting potatoes and onions with dull table knives, 
browning the hamburger, under the watchful eye of their teacher, 
finally putting the top on and waiting for it to cook. When it is time 
to dine, I have never seen a child that did not eat their share with 

The recipe: 3 stones, 1 pound ground beef, 1 large can V-8 juice, 6 
carrots, 2 onions, 1/4 head cabbage, 2 stalks celery, salt and pepper, 
1/2 cup water. Place the three clean stones in an electric frying pan. 
We usually have two frying pans going at the same time. Brown the 
beef, add the V-8 juice, add the vegetables that have been peeled and 
cut in small pieces by the children. Add salt and pepper and water 
and simmer covered for one hour. Remove the stones before serving. 
Children enjoy having saltine crackers with their wonderful Stone 

Submitted by Mrs. Philip R. Williams (Betty Ruth) 

In 1995, the WOC published another edition, called Dinner Chimes. 
It was a wonderful success. The committee included Rose Forrest, Meg 
Fisher, Emalee DeBevoise, and Barbara Jones. Talented life member of the 
church Mrs. W R. Kelly Jr. (Annabelle) drew the sketches for the charm- 
ing publication. Mrs. Tom Efird (Anne) served as president of the WOC. 
Mrs. Gunnar Nielsen (Lisbet) kept the inventory of the cookbooks, and 
Mrs. Alec Hall (Ginny) was the marketing chair. 

The second and third female elders in First Church were Macie Or- 
mand and Kitty Mackie, elected in 1971 to serve six-year terms on the 
Session. Ormand had joined the church in 1934 and started playing the pi- 
ano for various functions two years later. She was a member of the chan- 
cel choir for more than forty years. "Everything I have done in this church 
I have enjoyed," she said in late 2003, at the age of ninety-two. Ormond 
now lives at Covenant Village. 

Katherine (Kitty) McChesney had come to Gastonia as director of re- 


The Women of the Church has always been the extended hand 
of hospitality to the congregation. This is true at times of cele- 
bration. Traditionally, Women of the Church welcome new staff 
and ministers with encouragement and usually meals. Below is a 
recipe used on several occasions to fete new members and those 
serving as interim pastors. 


Served to welcome minister s family at Sunday lunch given 
by WOC. 

i cup chopped celery Salt and pepper to taste 

i green pepper, chopped Dash of Worcestershire 

i medium onion, chopped sauce 

6 tablespoons butter Vi pound boiled fresh 

(divided) shrimp 

2 tablespoons all-purpose i (8-ounce) package frozen 

flour white crab, thawed and 

i cup milk rinsed 

i can cream-of-mushroom i cup cooked wild rice 

soup i cup cooked white rice 
i cup grated sharp cheese 

Saute celery, onion, and pepper in 4 tablespoons of the but- 
ter. In saucepan melt rest of butter; add flour gradually and 
stir until smooth, adding milk a little at a time, and heat until 
thickened. Stir constantly. Add soup, cheese, salt, pepper, 
and Worcestershire sauce. Mix with sauteed vegetables. Com- 
bine this mixture with crab, shrimp, and rice. Pour into 
greased round 2-quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 
30 minutes. 

Submitted by Mary Ann Aycock 


ligious education (DRE) under the Reverend Ellis. "We welcome to our 
church and community Miss Katherine McChesney, who has come to be 
our DRE," the November i, 1941, edition of the church newsletter an- 
nounced. Obviously she went to work efficiently and immediately, pro- 
ducing a Christmas program in six weeks. The December 20, 1942, news- 
letter read, "Our Christmas pageant, written and directed by our DRE, 
will be given tonight at our regular service hour." 

After her marriage to H. S. Mackie in 1944, Kitty continued as DRE 
until 1945, when she was succeeded by Mary Olive Walker. Kitty remained 
active in the Women of the Church and was awarded a life membership. 
Her husband died in 1970. In 1975, Dr. Stuart asked her to volunteer as 
manpower secretary, a position Lisbet Nielsen had held the previous five 
years. Mackie served the church in this capacity until 1987. She repre- 
sented her church when Presbytery elected her a commissioner to the 

The Seekers Bible Class, established in 1992. 


General Assembly in 1973 and in 1983. Kitty Mackie served as chairman of 
Presbytery's Coordinating Council and vice chairman of Synod's Coun- 
cil. She made history when she was elected the first female moderator of 
the Presbytery of Concord in 1975. She resides at Covenant Village, is ac- 
tive in Presbyterian Church affairs, and remains a wise and guiding coun- 
sel. Her son, Spurgeon Mackie, his wife Margaret, and their three daugh- 
ters are members of First Church. 

Elders Sarah Abernethy and Helen Harris have also been elected com- 
missioners to General Assembly, in 1999 and 2003, respectively. As com- 
missioner, Harris attends all Presbytery meetings for one year with voice 
and vote. She is also a member of the Presbytery Committee on Ministry, 
in addition to being enabler/coordinator for Presbyterian Women. 

Please continue to guide and direct our efforts as we near the end 
of our mission, that we might bring to our congregation a church 
history that will unite us, and move us forward in spreading Thy 
love and glory. 

In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. 

— Prayer of the Committee of History and Archives, January 2005 


Chapter Nine 



Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared 
for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and 
you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was 
a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed 
me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came 
to me. 

— Matthew 25:34—36 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

— Psalm 23:1 

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Just ask John DeBevoise why he 
decided to accept the call in March 1990 as First Church's senior 
minister after having previously turned down the offer. 

"I told them no and told them definitely no because I really liked where 
I was," DeBevoise recalled years later. "Then I began to question if I had 
been open to a new place. I hoped I had done the right thing. But just as 
I was praying to the Lord, 'Thy will be done,' the car radio was on and 
the newscaster said, And now a word from Gastonia, North Carolina.' I 
pulled off the road. The news story was that Hurricane Hugo had come 
through Gastonia months earlier and that birth rates were up phenom- 
enally there." DeBevoise said he took the report as a providential sign: "I 


Dr. John T. DeBevoise, pastor, 1990-1995. 

think the Lord was trying to nudge my heart and mind toward hearing 
what those folks were trying to say." 

The seven-member pulpit committee breathed a giant sigh of relief af- 
ter having looked more than two years for a successor to Jim Stuart. "We 
searched high, long, and wide," recalled committee member Dan LaFar 
Jr. "We covered the whole eastern seaboard. We thought we had made 
a real strong connection with a fellow in Pittsburgh, and we had him 
down here. We made two trips up there to see him. We went to Shreve- 
port, Louisiana, to Columbia, South Carolina." Other committee mem- 
bers were Bonnie Blair, Elizabeth Current, Dub Dickson, Gary Fulton, 
Bill Keith, and Ralph Robinson Jr., the chair. The committee members 
said they read 250 resumes, visited ten churches, and met with ministers 
in seven states. 


Dr. John Leith, professor at Union Theological Seminary in Rich- 
mond, strongly recommended that the search committee consider John 
DeBevoise. After DeBevoise turned down the first offer, the committee 
was advised not to contact him again, LaFar said. However, a committee 
member insisted they try. This time they were successful in recruiting the 
tall, young, commanding DeBevoise, described by some of the committee 
members as the most touchingly genuine man they ever met. 

While the committee searched, the church operated under the guid- 
ance of interim ministers Lawrence Stell, Zack Piephoff, Hugh Eichel- 
berger, and George Gunn. A committee chaired by Bill Lawson and con- 
sisting of Sarah Abernethy, David Cline, Duke Kimbrell, Joan Barringer, 
and Cookie Brenner guided the administration through the interim. In 
the meantime, the new $48,880 columbarium was dedicated in January 
1989. The Reverend Mr. Frank Mayes, associate pastor, who had served as 
advisor to the committee, led the dedication service. 

Jean Kelly Adams was chair of the committee overseeing the columbar- 
ium project and was among the first to be interred there. Other commit- 
tee members were Ben Ferguson, Frank Mayes, Don Carmichael, Marga- 
ret Upchurch, Baird Butler, Charlton Torrence, Becky Carter, Ruby Lee 
Roberts, Scotty King, Sylvia Leeper, 
and Wilson Dunn. 

Even while the business of the 
church went on, everyone knew that 
the naming of an outstanding perma- 
nent senior minister was imperative 
to the future health of the church. "I 
don't think a church can go on very 
long without a strong senior minis- 
ter," LaFar said, echoing the opin- 
ion of many First Church lay lead- 
ers. "It needs the spiritual leadership. 

Reverend Frank Mayes, associate pastor. 



It needs somebody preaching from the pulpit every Sunday morning for 
forty-five out of fifty-two Sunday mornings who can deliver a message." 

DeBevoise had been associate pastor of Palma Ceia Presbyterian in 
Tampa, Florida, for nearly four years when the search committee visited 
there. "We heard him preach and literally fell head over heels," LaFar 
said. DeBevoise was another perfect fit for First Church in Gastonia. He 
soon made his mark on the church and the Gaston County community, 
establishing a new level of social consciousness. "He was truly a man of 
God," LaFar said. "I have never known anybody closer to Jesus Christ." 
Many shared that sentiment. 

A native of Tampa, DeBevoise had grown up in Orlando, where his 
father was a Presbyterian minister. He received his bachelor's degree in 
philosophy at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Then he went to 
Union Theological Seminary in Richmond for his Doctor of Ministry de- 
gree, spending another year to obtain a master of theology degree. After 
being ordained, he served churches in Roanoke, Virginia; Winter Park, 
Florida; and two in Orlando before accepting the call to Palma Ceia. 

He and his wife Emalee, whom he had met at Eckerd College, had a 
daughter, Beth, and a son, Joe. Another daughter, Mary Emalee, was born 
while the DeBevoises were in Gastonia. 

"It is with great thanksgiving that I accept the call of the First Pres- 
byterian Church in Gastonia to the Senior Pastor's position," DeBevoise 
wrote in the March 15, 1990, First Church of Gastonia newsletter. "Ema- 
lee and I feel a deep sense of thanksgiving for the many elements which 
have made up our pilgrimage to your call." He included in the newslet- 
ter a statement of personal faith in which he noted that his faith had been 
shaped by "a long and significant family heritage; personal encounters 
with God's grace which I have known I did not deserve and which have 
come to me as a gift." He paid homage to congregations who had strug- 
gled with their faith and to "women and men of extraordinary devotion 
who, discerning the presence of God, offered their minds, hearts, and 
wills in gratitude, obedience, and care for others." He closed, "I believe 
that through our redemption in Christ, God has given our lives meaning, 
and the freedom to act with forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing." 

DeBevoise remembered that one of the reasons he accepted the call 


to Gastonia was that he was impressed with the quality of the members. 
"They had a proprietary sense about the church, and that's a good thing," 
he recalled. "Rather than a feeling like 'We go to a church where the 
preacher runs it or somebody else runs it,' they had a sense that they were 
responsible for the church, for caring for it, for managing it. For many of 
them, that had been a responsibility of their parents before them. They 
were intent on being the caretakers, stewards, witnesses for the life of that 

Dr. John Leith preached the installation sermon for DeBevoise on May 
20, 1990, saying, "John DeBevoise is a minister who makes teaching in a 
theological seminary eminently worthwhile." He said DeBevoise had been 
called to preach the gospel and to teach and to exercise pastoral care. "We 
install him as pastor in this church in a very bleak time in the history of 
the Presbyterian Church," Leith said. "In the last twenty-one or twenty- 
two years, we have succeeded in losing 1,300,000 members. We have over 
fourteen hundred fewer congregations than we had in 1966. We have less 
than 50 percent of the people in church school than we had in 1966. But 
never before in the history of the church have people been so open to the 
gospel as they are in the American society today." 

Not long after his arrival in April 1990, DeBevoise immediately plunged 
his new church into a more active role in community involvement while 
maintaining the high level of internal spiritual and educational activ- 
ity. He launched an intern program with young people from Davidson 

In the fall of 1990, Jim McAlhaney became youth director. The Rever- 
end Joe Stowe was appointed as parish associate to assist DeBevoise. A na- 
tive of Gastonia, Stowe had been encouraged in his ministerial studies by 
the Henderlite Bible Class. He served various Presbyterian pulpits during 
a successful ministerial career. When First Church asked him to serve as 
part of an interim team after Dr. Stuart's resignation, Stowe accepted. He 
had a sincere and uncomplicated philosophy, and his home visits and ap- 
proachable demeanor endeared him to the congregation. When John and 
Emalee DeBevoise accepted the call to First Church, Joe Stowe and his 
wife, Beverly, became surrogate parents to the relocated DeBevoise fam- 
ily. John DeBevoise's shepherding instincts were encouraged and tutored 


Rev. Joe E. Stowe, parish associate. 

by Joe Stowe. Stowe died unexpect- 
edly in 1994 following complications 
of heart surgery. 

With assistance and guidance from 
Rev. Stowe and others, DeBevoise 
quickly began making his mark at 
First Church. One of the changes was 
a prayer luncheon at First Church for 
prisoners from the Gaston County 
Correctional Facility who were re- 
ceiving their GEDs (General Equiva- 
lency Diplomas) in a graduation cer- 
emony. "Part of what the prisoners 
needed was an audience to see them 
get their degrees," DeBevoise said. 
"The penal system called and asked 
if we would host it once, which we 
did, and the people were so good about receiving the prisoners, sitting 
amongst them, talking with them about their families. It was really a re- 
markable expression of the hospitality of those folks who took part in that 
Wednesday lunch. Many of the prisoners said, 'This is the first time in my 
life that I have ever graduated from anything.'" 

The luncheons often featured speakers such as North Carolina State 
Senator Helen Marvin and Gill McGregor, a television announcer for the 
Charlotte Hornets National Basketball Association team. Marvin defined 
freedom in her talk by saying, "When your freedom encroaches on my 
rights, it ceases to be your freedom." 

Another major community effort undertaken by the church under De- 
Bevoise's leadership was the Super Cupboard, a program of Crisis As- 
sistance Ministry to bring sustenance and education to low-income sin- 
gle mothers. Penny Wilson was the director for the first year, and First 
Church member Becky Adams headed it for the next five years. 

"They [indigent mothers] would come to the church one morning a 
week," DeBevoise said. "The church would provide day care while the 
moms were given basic life instruction, such as how to balance a check- 


book, how to cook nutritious food, and how to fill out a job resume. So 
the church put together a faculty of teachers: a representative from the 
bank to help them fill out a checkbook, a representative from the com- 
munity college to help them prepare a resume, a beautician who talked to 
them about hygiene. They would do this for six months, and it changed 

Dr. DeBevoise said the success rate was phenomenal. "Seventy-five per- 
cent of these women ended up getting jobs and, with the coaching of the 
faculty, got their kids in affordable day care. It turned their lives around." 
The church members went beyond teaching and coaching, he said, going 
so far as preparing lunch for them and even picking them up and driv- 
ing them home. "A representative of the governor [Jim Martin] came and 
looked at that program one day," DeBevoise said. "He showed up as kind 
of a witness on his part as the sort of thing North Carolinians ought to be 

Becky Adams said, "I like to think we planted a lot of seeds. We 
equipped the women with valuable life tools to make lasting differences 
in their lives and the lives of their children." The program ended when 
changes were made in the federal social services guidelines. 

The SOCKS (Serving Our Community with Kindness in Spring- 
wood) organization was begun in 1978 but struggled financially. First 
Presbyterian became involved in 1995— 1996 through their Christian Ac- 
tion Committee, with Robert Barringer spearheading the efforts. 

DeBevoise gave the following report to his 
congregation at an annual meeting on Janu- 
ary 27, 1991: "There is always change at work 
in the church because God's spirit is at work in 
the church, but this year concluded an unusual 
three-year period of change in the life of this 
church, including the retirement of a senior pas- 

Robert Barringer, very involved with 
SOCKS (Serving Our Community 
with Kindness in Springwood). 



tor, the move of two associate ministers and one youth director, three in- 
terim senior ministers, one interim associate, the calling of a new senior 
pastor, a new parish associate, a new youth director, a committee to call a 
new associate, and a hurricane." 

The church did not back away from controversy under DeBevoise's 
care. In October 1991, the Session voted to allow a workshop on abortion 
in the spring of 1992, saying the low-profile workshop would involve peo- 
ple from both sides of the issue. 

In April 1992, DeBevoise reported that three members of the congre- 
gation had AIDS and that five had tested positive for HIV. He recom- 
mended, and the Session approved, that a subcommittee be established 
under the Pastoral Care Committee to support the families of the vic- 
tims. In June 1992, DeBevoise invited his father, Dr. Don T. DeBevoise of 
Markham Woods Presbyterian Church in Lake Mary, Florida, to deliver 
the Father's Day sermon at First Church. It was a very moving service, 
with fatherhood as the theme. 

In 1994, the church was one of four in the area to support a pastoral 

Faith and Fiction book group. Left to right: Betsy Burleson, Kitty Peabody, Jean 
Hileman, Sarah Wentz. 


counseling center in Gaston County. In 1995, it established a partnership 
with a church in Guatemala. 

The church thrived under DeBevoise's pastoring. He started a book 
group called Faith and Fiction that continues today, led by the Reverend 
Patrick Perryman, associate pastor. By 1995, the budget had reached the 
$1 million mark for the first time, and Sunday school attendance was the 
highest in the church's history. During that same year, the Session voted 
to give DeBevoise $10,000 to be used during a sabbatical. 

Dr. DeBevoise was an extremely well organized and outstanding mod- 
erator for the Session. He kept things in perspective and did not take it 
personally if one of his recommendations was not approved. He could ac- 
cept defeat graciously and move on to what he needed to do next. He had 
a wonderful sense of humor, and if someone joked about one of his mis- 
takes, he laughed longer and louder than anyone else. Members remem- 
ber him as a giant spiritually, professionally, and even physically. He was 
articulate, witty, and erudite, and he demonstrated special sensitivity to 
the needs of his flock. All were equal in need in his eyes, and he devel- 
oped his ministry around genuine love and service to his congregation. 
All thought DeBevoise extremely wise and mature for his age. He had 
an uncanny ability to recall names. "He could meet you one time and re- 
member your name," several people said. "He returned early from vaca- 
tions to handle funerals, weddings and baptisms. He was the epitome of 
the shepherd. No one ever went to surgery without his bringing commu- 
nion if they wanted it." 

DeBevoise was a true scholar and excellent Bible teacher. He conducted 
many Bible classes and for several years brought Dr. John Leith to the 
church for three days of special Bible study. Dr. Leith was the Pemberton 
Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary. The funds for the 
weekend events were provided by the Susie and George W. Ragan Spiri- 
tual Enrichment Fund. In addition to Dr. Leith, other leaders of these 
events have included Dr. Tom Long of Columbia Seminary; Dr. Mary 
Faith Carson, professor of Bible at Bethlehem College in Pennsylvania; 
and Dr. Bill Oglesby of Union Theological Seminary. 

In February 1995, DeBevoise called for a $1 million benevolence cam- 
paign to be conducted internally among the members with no outside 


consultant. He proposed to divide the $i million, with $100,000 to go to 
the Heritage Fund; $500,000 to local benevolences ($200,000 to churches 
and $300,000 to other institutions); $100,000 to missions in the world 
($50,000 to the Hospital of Light in Haiti and $50,000 to two projects 
of the World Mission Committee, perhaps in Central America and Paki- 
stan); and $300,000 to other institutions. It would be called the Joy Cam- 
paign. After appointing a committee to evaluate the proposal, the Session 
declined to accept his recommendation. "It just wasn't the time to do it," 
recalled Bill Keith, a member of the committee. 

There were other programs under DeBevoise's leadership, such as 
building houses for Habitat for Humanity, but not all the activity was 
outside the church. In late October 1991, church member Noel Johnson 
and DCE Allison Gordon Lineberger approached DeBevoise with the 
idea of a Kirkin' of the Tartans service. DeBevoise approved the idea and 
gave his reasons to the congregation in a November 7, 1991, issue of the 
church newsletter: "Someone asked me the other day, 'Why is a French 
Huguenot like DeBevoise interested in celebrating the Scottish roots of 
the Presbyterian Church with a Kirkin' of the Tartans service?' Well, 
that's a good question. Presbyterians have come from a variety of limbs 
on the family tree and our Christian heritage goes back to France, Ger- 

Two greats: Mayor Jick Garland (eating) and Howard Whisnant, 
circa 2000. 


Noel Johnson in the 2002 Kirkin' of the Tartans service. 

many, Italy, Spain, and Israel! But, the branch of the Christian faith in the 
U.S.A. called Presbyterianism does have particularly strong connections 
with Scotland." He explained that he would give his full reasoning in his 
sermon during that first Kirkin' service at eleven o'clock on Sunday, No- 
vember 10, 1991, whereas his associate Dr. Joe Stowe would be conducting 
a more traditional service at the nine o'clock chapel service. "So whether 
bagpipes strike your fancy or raise your dander, we are trying to offer 
something for everyone," DeBevoise wrote. 

Since that first Kirkin' in 1991, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. George 
Henry Jr., First Presbyterian of Gastonia's service has grown into im- 
mense popularity, as evidenced by a crowded sanctuary each year. From 
the initial Sunday when members had to borrow tartans to wear and carry 



The 2004 Kirkin' of the Tartans service. Left to right: Jay Garrett, Dr. John DeBe- 
voise, Dr. Dan Wilson, Dr. David Stoker, Gloria Hickson. 

in the sanctuary, they now proudly display fifty-five individual tartans. As 
a measure of respect, John Peden, as chief of his clan, has been seen plac- 
ing his ceremonial sword diagonally across his body, the sign of peace in 

The ceremony itself is based on Scottish history and legend. In 1746, 
following the defeat of the Scots by the English at the Battle of Culloden, 
Scotland once again came under British rule. Scots were forbidden not 
only from carrying arms, but also from wearing kilts, plaid, or any other 
tartan garment. As the legend goes, the stubborn Scots secretly carried 
a piece of their clan's tartan with them to church (kirk is Scottish for 
"church"), and the minister then slipped a blessing (a Kirkin') into the 

In 2002, as guest for the Kirkin' service, Dr. Jim Stuart, of Scottish 
heritage, delivered an inspiring and informative sermon about the history 
of the Presbyterian Church. In 2003, Dr. Billy Wireman, former presi- 
dent of Queens University in Charlotte, delivered the guest sermon at the 
Kirkin', attended by a capacity crowd. 


Members of First Church received a shock when they opened their 
mail on July 24, 1995, to find a letter of resignation from their beloved se- 
nior minister, John DeBevoise. "It was totally unexpected," Dan LaFar Jr. 
recalled. "We thought he would be here forever." In his letter, DeBevoise 
tried to explain why he was leaving after five and a half years to return 
to the congregation in Tampa. "I have neither solicited nor sought this 
call from Palma Ceia," he wrote. "But now, God's providence working 
through this call has presented Emalee and me with the opportunity to 
serve the Lord by pastoring a church and being accessible to our extended 
family. As we have lived 10 of the 16 years of our marriage far away from 
family, this opportunity is a compelling one. Health patterns in my ex- 
tended family make it clear to me that I may have the opportunity to be 
of some service to them." 

DeBevoise said in his letter, "No congregation could have treated their 
pastor and his family any more kindly than you have treated us and our 
children. Together with you we have sought to serve the Lord in this 
church and I feel blessed to have been your pastor. The privilege of stand- 
ing with you as pastor, with individuals and families in joy and sadness, 
in worship and fellowship, in mission and service, has strengthened my 

The Gastonia Gazette marked DeBevoise's departure with a story cred- 
iting him with organizing community Lenten services in six major Gas- 
tonia churches beginning in 1992 and a cross-denominational pulpit ex- 
change in January. The Gazette quoted First Church member Bill Keith: 
"He has had not only a strong preaching ministry, but a very strong pas- 
toring ministry." Keith had been a member of the pulpit committee that 
called DeBevoise. 

Gazette columnist Bill Williams quoted First Church member Tom 
Efird as saying, "We were looking for a great preacher, but what we got 
was a great pastor also. He is one of those guys who is not only so good 
that he talks the talk but also walks the walk. He has done so much for 
the community. My wife Anne put it into perspective when she said, 'He 
is the most Christ-like man I have ever known.'" 

In the August 3, 1995, church newsletter, DeBevoise said farewell and 
told the membership that an interim minister would be sought to take his 


place while a search was being conducted for his permanent replacement. 
"I want to thank you for the notes, prayers, and support that have come 
forth as I have shared with you the news of my transition," he wrote. 
"Your Christian character continues to shine forth and once again my ex- 
perience is that it is you who are pastoring me rather than the other way 
around." It was DeBevoise's last official word to the congregation, and 
August 27 of that year was his last day. 

Within a month, Dr. Donald Mitchell, a veteran Presbyterian pastor, 
became interim while the search proceeded for a permanent senior min- 
ister. In the October 5, 1995, church newsletter, Mitchell, who had been 
on the job three days, introduced himself by saying, "In a congregation 
of over 1,500 members that supports multiple activities, that has over fifty 
separate committees and an extensive staff, the 'getting to know you' phase 
constitutes a genuine challenge." A native of New Zealand, he had been a 
missionary teacher in Peru before leaving to study at Princeton Theologi- 
cal Seminary, where he received his Doctor of Theology degree. He came 
to First Church of Gastonia after having been interim at Carmel Presbyte- 
rian in Charlotte, First Presbyterian of Kings Mountain, and Cook's Me- 
morial Presbyterian in Charlotte. He had also been a professor and then 
dean at Montreat-Anderson College, vice president for academic affairs 
at Wheaton College, and for ten years president of King College in Bris- 
tol, Tennessee. Mitchell recalled that when he took the interim position at 
First Church, "One of my jobs was to counsel with staff and redefine job 
descriptions and see that the job descriptions were followed." 

While he was serving as interim, Mitchell and his wife, Grace, enjoyed 
taking trips with the Presbyterian Trotters, a travel group that Jean Ad- 
ams started in 1979. Annabelle and David Royster gave a bus, which was 
used on Trotters trips. Usually David Pegram or Dan McCurry, who had 
chauffeur's licenses, drove gratis. The group, which was led by Mrs. Ad- 
ams and two of her neighbors, Presbyterian members Barbara Hunter and 
Sylvia Leeper, began by chartering buses for short day trips. The program 
grew to include longer stays in places such as Colonial Williamsburg in 
Virginia; San Francisco, California; and eventually Alaska, Canada, and 


Roadrunners go off to Flat Rock Playhouse, July 17, 2003. 

Overall the church continued to operate smoothly, and the 1996 bud- 
get reached $1,025,000. The Presbyterian Endowment Trust (PET), 
which had been created in 1977, received its largest contributions in 1997: 
$750,000 from the estate of Carroll Harmon and $100,000 from the Elis- 
abeth Love More estate, bringing the total endowment to $1,622,177. The 
largest previous contribution had come in 1991 from Miss Pearl Wilson at 
Covenant Village, who designated $150,000 toward mission work at the 

Also in 1996, the Stephen Ministry of First Presbyterian Church, de- 
signed to reach out to the congregation, was started under the leadership 
of Sarah Abernethy and Assistant Minister Ron Gilreath. Abernethy, her 
husband, Bo, and Gilreath attended a week-long training session for Ste- 
phen Ministers in 1996 at the University of Washington in Seattle. More 
than six hundred people from all over the United States and several for- 
eign countries also were trained that week. This national congregational 
support program thrives in churches throughout the United States. 



The chapel. 

Now Lord, be our Good Shepherd as well. Enable us to leave 
this place and to walk into your future. Write the good news of 
the gospel on our hearts with such strength that nothing can erase 
it. Help us to turn not only Thelma and those we love, but even 
ourselves into your everlasting arms. For we pray remembering 
your son, Jesus Christ. 

— From a prayer of dedication by the Reverend Dr. John 
DeBevoise, senior pastor, ippo—ippd, on the occasion of the 
memorial service for Mrs. Blake Breitenhirt (Thelma), 
January 2004 


Chapter Ten 


O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love 
endures forever. 

— Psalm 136:1 

A fter eighteen months of traveling and interviewing candidates, the 
Jl\. pulpit nominating committee announced in December 1996 that it 
had decided to recommend Dr. David Stoker, who was senior minister at 
South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida, where 
he had served for eight years. Again, the process had been a result of 
persistence on the part of a search committee member. This time it was 
William Lewis Craig. Craig made regular stops at the South Jacksonville 
Church on the way to see his son, Brian, who was on the golf team at the 
University of Florida in Gainesville. After Craig's third visit, the Stokers 
made a formal trip to Gastonia. 

"What struck me was David's evangelistic spirit and enthusiasm," re- 
called Mark Davis, who, in his mid-thirties, was the youngest member 
of the search committee. "I thought he would fit well with our congre- 

Born in Asheville on December 24, 1953, Stoker graduated from the 
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and received his Master of Di- 
vinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1980 and his Doctor of 
Ministry degree in 1991 from Fuller Theological Seminary, an interdenomi- 
national evangelical seminary in California. He served three years as an 


Dr. David Stoker, pastor, 1997—2005. 

assistant minister at Lakewood First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, 
California, before becoming associate pastor at the National Presbyterian 
Church in Washington, D.C., a church that also had been designed by ar- 
chitect Harold Wagoner of Philadelphia. 

While in Washington, he met his wife Monica, a stockbroker from 
Grosse Pointe, Michigan. As a pastor from the National Church, Stoker 
traveled and preached in Africa; Russia; and Edinburgh, Scotland. He 
also led many church trips to Israel, Scotland, and Germany to see the fa- 
mous Passion play at Oberammergau. After six years at National Presby- 


terian, where President Ronald Reagan often worshipped, Stoker accepted 
a call to go to South Jacksonville Presbyterian. By the time he answered 
the call to First Church in Gastonia on December 26, 1996, Stoker and 
his wife had three children, Andrew, age four, Sarah, two, and Nathan, 
seven months. 

Stoker began his ministry on March 10, 1997, in a very unusual way. 
Before he arrived at the church, he began receiving telephone calls ask- 
ing him about a former music director at the church, the Reverend Herff 
Applewhite. Stoker wrote in the church newsletter, "I remember when 
I first heard the report on television, I said to myself, 'This is going to 
be damaging to the Christian cause. Please don't let this cult leader be a 
Presbyterian.' When I arrived at the church that morning, I found mo- 
bile news trucks broadcasting by satellite in the parking lot. Inside I was 
greeted by reporters. I discovered that not only was Herff Applewhite 
a former Presbyterian, he was a former employee of First Presbyterian 

Applewhite was the leader of the Heaven's Gate cult in Rancho Santa 
Fe, California, where he and thirty-eight members committed mass sui- 

Left to right: Dr. David Stoker, Rev. John Pruitt, Rev. Patrick Perryman. 


Reformation Sunday, 2004. Left to right: John Calvin (Brian Allf ), John 
Knox (Noel Johnson), and Martin Luther (Chris Parsons). 

cide on three successive days starting on March 23, 1997. They believed 
that the Hale-Bopp comet's passing would reveal a spaceship coming for 
their souls to take them to another planet. During Applewhite's Gasto- 
nia service, he had no cult associations and was perceived as a skillful 

Stoker said one of the reasons for the attractiveness of the call to First 
Church was its potential. "This church has incredible rich resources in ev- 
ery way, certainly rich resources in personnel and people, the leaders and 
the leadership in this church and in Gastonia and Gaston County," he 
said. "The striking sanctuary itself is a witness to the community. Every- 
one knows this church. It has been so involved in mission and so involved 
in the betterment of the community through its financial resources and 

Soon after Stoker arrived in 1997, the church underwent another goal- 
setting. Called Vision 2000, the committee was headed by Ralph Robin- 
son Jr. and included a Sessional retreat and congregational meetings. 

A consultant, Carolyn Weese of Multi-Staff Ministries in Goodyear, 


Elements of communion. The bread and wine symbolize the body and blood of 
Christ. The IHS banner is a symbol of the church, representing the Greek words for 
Jesus Christ. 

Arizona, spent eight days at the church conferring with more than 250 
members. Weese's thirty-four-page report on November 21, 1997, was a 
hard-hitting analysis of the nuts and bolts of the church's operation. She 
recommended changes to staff, organizational design, financial strategy, 
and ministerial programs. Such recommendations were controversial and 

"Some recommendations may require change," Weese wrote. "All of the 
recommendations are made in order to move the church out of neutral 
and into a growing mode." Weese's negative report proved to be contro- 
versial among church members, but eventually several of her recommen- 
dations were adopted. "We knew we had some problems going in, but our 



main concern was we wanted an outside consultant for a clear view," said 
Vision 2000 committee member Tom Efird. "A number of items were 
very definitely followed up — for example, her recommendations that the 
church's appearance needed to be spiffed up." A number of major renova- 
tions were accomplished, including more offices. First Presbyterian staff 
members were replaced and office volunteers were phased out. In spite of 
a difficult adjustment, the goal-setting was completed. 

After the goal-setting process was completed in 2001, Stoker said, 

The bottom line was that people said they wanted to grow spiri- 
tually and I think we have done that. We have instituted a new 
contemporary worship service called the Joy Service. Under the 
leadership of elder Mark Davis, a committee began to meet in 2000 
to study whether or not our church needed to add a "contemporary 
praise" service. The committee met for over one and a half years 
with the first year "bathed in prayer." Once decided and approved 
by the Session, the committee chose the name of "Joy in the Morn- 
ing," and the first JOY Service was held on June 23, 2002. Lee Taylor, 
elder serving the committee, said of this new service, "The JOY 

Henderlite Bible Class teachers. Left to right: Alex Hall, Geof Planer, 
Noel Johnson, Charlie Grissom, Tom Efird. 


Joy in the Morning contemporary service, September 2004. 

Service is structured by the Session to include all worship standards 
and sacraments as required in the Book of Order in the Presbyterian 
Church, USA. Even though the Christian music and instruments 
are considered contemporary, the dress is casual and a video screen is 
used. The sermons are based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Services 
may include drama and current event videos, performances by our 
various children's choirs and special speakers. Growth has been 
steady and this new service has become a vital part of our church's 

In addition to this innovative service, church school classes have 
come to include a broadened curriculum. More than 300 people 


2004 Session. Seated: Marion Call, Sarah Abernethy, Elizabeth Sumner, 
Susan Stover, Annabelle Kelly, Martha Beal, Gail Ebner, Jean Marie Torrence. 
Standing: David Stoker, W. W. Dickson, Brian Schroeder, Lee Taylor, James 
Blair, Gordon Quarles, Charles Gallman, Ben Morrow, John Bridgeman, 
Lon Waggoner, Steve Brittain, David King, Grady Kennington. 

Shelly Carter, Congregational Care Ministry, 2004. 


2004 deacons. First row: Carl Kunkle, Mary Sumner, Peggy Robertson, Mary 
Layton, Judith Planer, Beverly Sumner, John Lemmon. Second row: Beverly Brad- 
shaw, Anna Fanning, Linda Nelson, Elizabeth Thrower, Rebecca Adams, Barbara 
Hammerle, Patricia McCurry. Third row: Scott Pierce, Thomas Brown, Thomas 
Kirkham, Will Hooker, Larry Wilson, Robert Buckles, John Sherron, Benjamin 
Beasley, Rebecca Roberts. 

have taken the "Experiencing God" class, and the Sunday school 
classes have grown with a 17 percent increase in Christian Education 

I am so proud of First Presbyterian's involvement in the building of 
Third Street Presbyterian Church (see photo in color insert), and of 
our involvement with the new Interfaith Hospitality Network where 
we house people in need during one week every quarter. I am proud 
of our involvement feeding children at the Salvation Army Boys and 
Girls Club four nights each month. I am grateful that we remain 
one of the largest contributors to the Crisis Assistance Ministry to 
feed the hungry. I am grateful to God that during this ministry we 



have built the third, fourth and fifth Habitat for Humanity houses. 
Ten percent of all the Habitat Houses in Gaston County have been 
built by First Presbyterian Church. Sharing the responsibility for 
these good missions with other churches is a bonding experience for 

In September 2001, Dr. Stoker participated in a Presbyterian peace- 
making trip to the nation of Jordan. He and fourteen other Presbyterian 
pastors were returning to New York City on the morning of September 
11. After the terrorist attack, Dr. Stoker's plane was rerouted to Shannon, 
Ireland, where he and the other pastors in his group remained stranded 
for eight days. During that tense period, First Presbyterian rallied around 
Dr. Stoker's family. Also during his absence, Associate Pastors John Pruitt 
and Patrick Perryman gave leadership in a particularly moving worship 
service for all those affected by 9/11. 

In his leisure time, Dr. Stoker enjoys golf, world travel, Boy Scouts, and 
family time with Monica and their three children. He and his wife enjoy 

The 2003-2004 PET committee. Left to right: Liz Current, Liz Sumner, Gene 
Matthews, Dan LaFar, Doug Stover, Pat Morrow, Dr. David Stoker, Bill Adams. 
Absent: Sally Robinson, Tim Efird, Ring T Stafford. 



Iris Willcox, Irene 
Cherry, and Mary 
Katherine Keith in 
the Heritage Room, 

traveling. His favorite form of recreation is tending to his three hives of 
bees, a hobby he began as a Boy Scout at the age of fourteen. 

A personal friend and church member said of Dr. Stoker, "David came 
to First Presbyterian at a time when the national church was in a era of 
change. He has served us in that change." 

At a regular Session meeting on June 26, 2005, Dr. Stoker announced 
to the Session that he had activated his Personal Information Form and 
he was presently seeking a new call or vocation. The following month at 
a called Session meeting, Dr. Stoker was awarded a six month sabbati- 
cal. This gift was approved following Dr. Stoker's request to terminate his 
pastoral relationship with First Presbyterian Church. 

And now may God strengthen you in His Glorious might . . . 
and may Jesus Christ His Son go before you to lead you . . . above 
you to protect you . . . beneath you to sustain you in your times of 
trouble. May Christ Jesus be beside you to be your friend . . . and 
may He dwell within you to fill you with His love and His peace 
that nothing in the world can take away! Amen. 

— Colossians 1:11, traditional benediction of Dr. David C 
Stoker, senior minister, ippy—200$ 



Chapter Eleven 

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the be- 
lievers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, 
in purity. 

— / Timothy 4:12 

As an Eagle Scout, Dr. Stoker was pleased to be at the helm of the 
Jf\. church on November 14, 1998, when Boy Scout Troop 11 (see photo 
in color insert), formed in the church in 1923, celebrated its seventy-fifth 
anniversary. Troop 11 is a legend in Boy Scouting circles. The anniversary 
celebration was a glorious affair attended by Jere B. Ratcliffe, the chief 
executive of Boy Scouts of America, and several hundred people. Among 
the honored guests were a number of prominent Gastonia area business 
leaders who have become Eagle Scouts in Troop 11. They included former 
Gastonia Mayor James B. (Jick) Garland and Duke Kimbrell, president 
and chief executive officer of Parkdale Mills, whose father C. C. Kim- 
brell had served as Scoutmaster of Troop 11 from 1935 until 1941. He again 
served this troop as Master from 1943 to 1947. Garland, who served as 
mayor from 1987 to 1997, grew up in the church. His father and mother, 
Peter W. Garland and Kathleen Boyce Garland, were faithful members, 
and his maternal great-grandfather was Captain J. Q. Holland, a member 
of the first Session. 

The headquarters for the eleven-county Piedmont Council Scout head- 
quarters was constructed on Franklin Avenue in memory of C. C. Kim- 


Cub Pack/Den 2, circa 1950. Left to right: Jimmy Franklin, Dick 
Jarman, Tom Watson, Bill Jarman, Billy Wetzell, Bill Wyche, Jimmy 
Taylor, Marshall LaFar, Leslie McLean. 

C. C. Kimbrell Boy Scout Service Center. 


brell. A complete list of recipients of the prestigious Silver Beaver Award 
is included with the appendix. In 2004, Troop 11 had forty-three Scouts 
with ten adult leaders, including the present Scoutmaster, Steve Owens, 
who took over in 1996. In 2000, the troop was chosen as one of only 
fifteen in the United States to be invited to the International Scout Camp- 
oree in Michigan. 

Boy Scout Troop 11, 2004, is plate 6 in the color insert. Kneeling: Lee 
Rollins, Jack Collier, Jack Meakin, James Collier, Joseph Vaughn, James 
Rios, Sam Roach, Ben Rowley. Seated: Andrew McCully, Will Choquet, 
Thomas Hauer, Preston Dole, Harrison McSpadden, Charles Nason, Mat- 
thew Knight, Jamie Sims. Standing: Lee Spencer, John Rowley (adult), 
Turner Vaughn, Michael Sims (adult), Anderson Gibbons, Turner Alli- 
son, Parker Sytz, Connor McSpadden, John Faine, Steve Owens (Scout- 
master), Brandon Jones, Ernest Sumner, Ethan Browning, A. J. Current, 
Brandon Smith. 

The Scouting program was expanded over the years by the addition 
of Girl Scouts. Since the First Church Girl Scout troop was organized in 
the 1920s, many women and some men have been active. The first leaders 
were Miss Sarah Gardner and Miss Mary John Howe. At that time, the 
girls were either Girl Scouts or Brownies. First Presbyterian now serves all 
levels: Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, and Senior Girl Scouts (see photo 
in color insert). From the start of Girl Scouting in Gaston County, the 
women of First Presbyterian have assumed leadership positions. In 1933, 
Lucia Groves Mercer was the first chairperson and commissioner of the 
Gaston County Girl Scouts. Marguerite Ring Torrence held that position 
in 1939, a time of tremendous growth at Camp Rotary, and she oversaw 
the installation of a swimming pool. 

During the pastorate of the Reverend Ellis, there were three active Girl 
Scout troops. Leaders were Miss Rebecca Falls, senior troop; Miss Mary 
Olive Walker, intermediate; and Mrs. Arthur Spencer Jr. (Marguerite), 
Brownies. Helen Ragan Barnett was commissioner of the Gaston County 
Girl Scouts in 1945, and her husband, Joe Barnett, served as treasurer 
for many years. Under the direction of Carolyn Warren Sumner, the Pi- 
oneer Council celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Girl Scouting on March 
11, 1958. Camp Rotary 's twenty-fifth anniversary was in 1963, with Jean 

scouting 151 

Brownie Troop 15 in 1963. Front row: Harriett Benson, Holly Williams, Ibby Page, 
Susan Kelly, Virginia Patrick, Peggy Upchurch, Jamie Minges, Dottie Zeigler, Bar- 
bara Sudduth. Second row: Cindy Bennett, Betty Hamner, April Anderson, Betsy 
Culp, Helen Beal, Bobi Smith, Janet Brendle, Ann Bryant, Leigh Ann Robinson. 
Third row, troop leaders: Annelle Kelly, Mary Ann Patrick, Margaret Upchurch. 

Groves Dixon at the council's head. She was followed by Mary Lytle in 
1964, when the two camps, Camp Rotary and Camp Kiwanis, were in- 
tegrated. Margaret Dunn Upchurch was the president in 1966, when the 
council purchased the property for Camp Golden Valley. Brownie Smyre, 
a longtime Cadette leader, was president in 1979, when a basketball court, 
tennis court, and backpacking trail were added to Camp Golden Val- 
ley. The Marguerite Ring Torrence Service Center was purchased in 1989, 
when Julia Shovelin was the president. Ring Torrence oversaw the suc- 
cessful capital fund campaign that paid for the new service center. B'Ann 
Vance served as public relations and fund-raising director of the commu- 
nity program and lent stability and innovative leadership. 

Girl Scout Sunday, March 2005, is plate 7 in the color insert. First Row: 


Leeann Harris, Carlisle Harris, unknown, Mamie Buckles, Jordan Bry- 
ant, Michelle Vaughn, unknown, Krista Payne, Pressley Howe, unknown, 
Morgan Bryant. Second Row: Hailey Collis, Anna Paschall, Julia Kay Re- 
ese, Anna Allf, unknown, Emily Rhodes, Hannah Newcombe, Bailey 
Bullock, Tori Rhinehart. Third Row: Jeanne Allf, Emily Collis, Natalie 
Jones, Coralie Watts, Sarah Winget, Maddie Bone, unknown, Georgia 
Belk, Mary Lanier Williams, Addy Goff, unknown. Fourth Row: Jennifer 
Newcombe, Erica Payne, Gwen Foster, Emma Nelli, Parker Hodges, Eliz- 
abeth Black, Hannah O'Neill, Garrison Hodges, Whitner Wise, Shelton 
Winget. Fifth Row: Lori Rutherford, Katie Reese, Marti Morris, Kenna 
Watts, Beverly Bradshaw, Debbi Cockfield, Tyler Bullock, Anna Bryant. 
Throughout the years, hundreds of First Presbyterian women have 
served as leaders of the troops of the church. They have helped the girls 
develop their own leadership skills using the democratic process of the 
Girl Scout program. Because of the dedication of the women of the 
church, hundreds of girls in our extended church area have had their lives 
enriched and have developed as competent, caring citizens. 

Marguerite Ring Torrence Girl Scout Service Center. 


- ^-^ '• 

Girl Scout Troop 74 in 1964. Back row: Rose Forrest, Jane Rankin, Nina Forrest, Ann 
Culp, Margaret Lawson, Katherine Parks, Katherine Hamner, Susan Owensby, Judy 
Hooks, Louise Eyler. Middle row: Lou Anne Talley, Sandra Moore, Karen Walker, 
Mary Ann Cole, Jane Albright, Debbie Williams, Patsy Brison, Carolyn Eaker, Dell 
Richardson, Ann Watson. Front row: Mary Wetzell, Debbie Feuer, Lee Whitener, 
Ginny Armstrong, Linda Long, Marjorie Williams, Elizabeth Akers, Tern Dickson, 
Susan Tull, Sandy Thomas, Shirley Hendrix. 

Our Father, bless now those who stand at this dividing point in 
their lives, that they may know their work is not done, but only 
beginning. Be present with them as they continue their pursuit of 
knowledge necessary to equip them for mastery of life. 

Help them not to be greedy and haughty, but instead to use 
their time and treasure to build a better world. 

Send us out with a commitment of mind and heart to promote 
the welfare and serve the common good of all. 

— From a prayer of commencement, 1983, by the Reverend Dr. 
James G. Stuart, senior minister, 1968— 1988 


Chapter Twelve 


Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that 
teaches in all good things. 

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we 
shall reap, if we faint not. 

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all 
men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. 

— Galatians 6:6, p, 10 

First Church has never forgotten its commitment to maintain strong 
religious-education programs for its membership. Building on its leg- 
acy, the church entered a new era in 1961 with the advent of the new facili- 
ties. In the beginning, the Sunday school superintendent's main job was 
to recruit and supply Sunday school teachers and their helpers. Over the 
years, outstanding lay leaders held the post, but slowly the position gave 
way to the Christian Education Committee and assigned assistant or as- 
sociate ministers as Directors of Christian Education. By 1961, the educa- 
tional program was divided into primary, elementary, junior high, and se- 
nior high age groups. Macie Ormand was the chair in charge of Christian 
Education in the primary and elementary divisions. 

In 1962, Ellen Fain Bowen became the founding director of the Presby- 
terian Weekday Program, a preschool program that provided scholarships 
to deal with the need for an integrated student body. Mrs. William L. 


Mickie Andrews' last day at Presbyterian Weekday School, with 
Bailey Bullock. 

Vacation Bible School, 1998. 


Wetzell Jr. (Nan) succeeded Bowen, and Dorothy McKenzie followed her 
in May 1974, retiring in 1998. It was under McKenzie's untiring effort and 
outstanding leadership that the Presbyterian Weekday School became ac- 
credited in 1988 by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. 

"We started on a shoestring, a broken shoestring," recalled veteran 
teacher Mickie Andrews. The school that had started with twenty-five 
children had more than two hundred by 2003, when Andrews retired af- 
ter thirty-nine years of service. (She is still called today when needed.) 
The present director is Paulette Elmore. 

The through-the-week school is only one part of the highly successful 
educational program at First Church. The Children's Ministry for Infants 
through Fifth Graders also includes six levels of Sunday school (kinder- 
garten through fifth grades), Children's Church, the nursery, Mothers' 
Morning Out, Vacation Bible School, and the Fall Festival. Laura Parsons 
has been the director of Children's Ministry since 2000. Although her pri- 
mary service is to recruit and equip the parents and volunteers to proceed 
with the ministry to children, Laura works directly with children when 

• V rj 

Our teams are 



she gives children's sermons in worship and when she leads the four-week 
children's sacraments class for fourth graders in preparation for World 
Wide Communion. The nursery continues to grow, and nursery coordi- 
nator Mary Reese came on board in the fall of 2002. 

In April 2001, the Children's Ministry buried a time capsule for the 
playground dedication to be reopened in 2021. It included such items as a 
sippy cup, a story quilt, a photograph album, an eight-millimeter video- 
cassette, letters to children of the future, facts about the present, and 
hopes for the future. Also inside were the school class roster book and 
the Children's Ministry Sunday school roster for 2000-2001 and vari- 
ous other items. Mrs. Dan Page (Ibby) and Mrs. Joseph Holman (Amy) 
chaired the event. 

One former member of First Church remembers Vacation Bible School 
in the late 1920s ran for several weeks under the leadership of Dr. Hender- 
lite and the Reverend Joe Overmyer. Bible study and memorizing scrip- 
ture were emphasized. Betty Sloan Stowe recalls that Lucille Rankin and 
Myrtle Warren were teachers. Stowe remembers that when she could not 

Atlanta would like to have this group! 



Learning and teaching the Ten Commandments. 

recite from memory chapter thirteen of I Corinthians as assigned, Miss 
Warren had her go on the steps until she could recite the chapter. The 
children enjoyed many activities, including picnics, various games, swim- 
ming, trips to Crowders Mountain, and exploring a haunted house. 

In the adult area, the Henderlite Bible Class and the Ladies' Bible 
Class enjoy the most consistent teachers and use the Uniform Lesson Se- 
ries. Other adult classes — the Seekers, Koinonia, and Connections classes 
— choose various topics and enlist their own teachers. Until the early 
1990s, organization of the church school was directed by the Christian 
Education Committee, which reported directly to the Session. Now a 
more flexible church-school operation exists. 

First Church also is still active in such programs as Habitat for Hu- 
manity, and in June 2004 took on a new challenge with the beginnings 
of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. It is a nationwide network of car- 
ing churches and individuals who are given the Christ-like charge to help 
needy families get back on their feet by providing temporary housing 
and Christian support. Under Elder Grady Kennington's active leader- 
ship, more than seventy-five First Church members signed up to partici- 
pate with Betsy King and Beth Silvers as cochairs. 



Henderlite Bible Class prepares for a fellowship meal. Left to right: David Dickson, 
Charles Massey, Noel Johnson, Bill Quarles, Phil Williams, Dan Wilson, Jim 
McKenize, Michael Dickson. 

Henderlite Bible Class, circa 1992. 


Top to bottom: 

Connections Sunday 
school class, estab- 
lished 2004. 

Ladies' Bible Class, 

Susan Allen and Grady 
Kennington with 
Interfaith Hospitality 
guests, 2005. 


Our future thinking. 

The future looks extremely bright for two particular areas — youth ac- 
tivities and music. For many years the youth program has been outstand- 
ing in the life of First Church. In the 1940s Easter sunrise services were 
joint programs of First Presbyterian and First Methodist youth. Adults 
transported the groups on trucks to the foot of Crowders Mountain. 
With the aid of large flashlights they climbed to the peak while it was still 
dark. At the very top of the mountain they had a most meaningful service 
of worship just as the sun rose. A former DRE said recently, "I will never 
forget Mildred Romer singing 'I Know That My Redeemer Liveth' as the 
sun was rising over the mountain." Afterward, a hearty breakfast at First 
Methodist Church was enjoyed by all the early worshippers. 

Since Pratt Butler became youth director in June 2002, participation 
and attendance have accelerated. Retreats, ski trips, movies, and special 
events, which were begun earlier, have been contributing to growth in 
the youth program. Butler, a UNC-Chapel Hill business-school gradu- 
ate and a one-man whirlwind, can be seen all over the county attending 
sports events and other activities that First Church youth are involved in. 
Unbelievably, more than sixty youth manage to get up early every Thurs- 


day for breakfast and Bible study at 6:30 a.m. at Alfred and Charlie's BBQ 
on New Hope Road, where they meet in same-sex groups called Morning 
Montage and Flamingle. On one particular morning, even after snow had 
caused school to be cancelled, forty youth still showed up. 

Butler, who is from Charlotte, had been considering a job in Colorado, 
but heard about the First Church job and jumped at the chance. He grew 
up as a Presbyterian; his grandfather, the Reverend Clyde Pratt, was pas- 
tor of several churches in Charlotte and elsewhere. 

"We have had a very active youth program for the past sixty-five years, 
but over the last two we have really moved to another level," said Grady 
Kennington, a youth leader at First Church since 1978. 

Every other year, the senior high school students journey to Jamaica 
on a mission trip, and every year the mid-highs travel to Appalachia on a 
mission trip to help repair homes of the less fortunate. This mission min- 
istry is the exponent of the ICE program begun by Pete Carruthers in the 

Thursday breakfast and Bible study at 6:30 a.m. at Alfred and Charlie's, where the 
youth meet in same-sex groups called Morning Montage and Flamingle. April 2004. 




In 2005, Staff Sergeant Samuel Wilds visited the Afterschool Program and presented 
the class with a United States flag flown in Iraq during his service there. 

Our Father in Heaven, we gather this morning in this house of 
worship to lift our voices in prayer and praise to You. With the 
psalmist of old, we say "This is the day the Lord has made, let 
us rejoice and be glad in it. " We come rejoicing that through 
Christ we can come before You, confident that You hear our 
prayers and respond to our needs. You alone are worthy of our 
worship, O God. 

We are thankful this day for our church, First Presbyterian. 
We are grateful for the ways it has touched so many lives for so 
many years. We lift before you those of our church who have spe- 
cial needs this day. For those who are sick in body or mind, we 
pray for healing. May they sense Your presence in a very special 
and powerful way. There are others that come to our mind, and 
we whisper their names now silently to You. 

Our hearts are full, dear God, with gratitude for ordinary 
blessings: the unreserved joy of children, the steady love of friends 
and spouses and parents and grandparents, the warmth of the sun 


on our faces, fresh breezes, and life-giving rain, the beauty of art 
and music. O God, you have so richly blessed us in so many ways 
and we are so deeply grateful. 

In the midst of all we do, remind us of how much You love us, 
and that You ask in return that we love You and love others in 
this world. 

Lord, make us all your instruments . . . 

Where there is hatred, let us spread love. 

Where there is doubt, faith. 

Where there is despair, hope. 

Where there is sadness, joy. 

For we make these prayers in the name of Jesus, who taught us 
to pray . . . Our Father, who art in heaven . . . 

— Prayer offered September y, 2002, by David C. Stoker, senior 
minister, 1997—2005 


Plate i. Church exterior with Crowders Mountain in the distance. Photograph 
by LOF Productions. 

Plate 2. Senior High Beach Bash, 2004. 

Plate 3. The Heritage Room. 

Plate 4. Big decisions being made: Cas Taylor, Pat Morrow, Gary 
Evans, Bo Abernethy. 

Plate f. Drama performance, The Sound of Music. 

Plate 6. Boy Scout Troop n, 2004. See caption on page 151. 

Plate 7. Girl Scout Sunday, March, 2005. See caption on pages 152-153. 

Plate 8. Our church bus and crew: Bob Jackson, Wilson Dunn, John Mason III. 

Plate p. An enthusiastic youth program, 2004. 

Plate 10, above. Clan tartans used in 

the annual Kirkin' of the Tartans 


Plate ii, right. Easter flower cross 

and stained-glass window. 

Plate 12. Easter Sunrise Service in the columbarium. 

Plate 13. Dr. Harry Moffett 
in the Belgium Congo, April 
i960, with his five-pound 
tiger fish! 

Plate 14, beloiv. Ground 
breaking for new Third 
Street Presbyterian Church, 
a largely African-American 
congregation on Highland 
Avenue. First Presbyterian 
Church of Gastonia gave 
them $300,000 to rebuild 
their church in 2000. 

Plate i$. Our 2000- 

2001 Presbyterian 

Weekday School 

students and 

Dorothy McKenzie 

— bless them! 

Plate 16. An active young choir. 

Chapter Thirteen 

And David and all Israel played before God with all their 
might, with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and 
with trumpets. 

— / Chronicles 13:8 

At a time the universal church has lost its sphere of influence 
upon the declining culture of our time, it is imperative that the 
church takes its rightful historic place as the cultural center of 
the community through music, worship, and the arts. 

— Timothy Belk, organist, 
quoted in The Gaston Gazette, October 2003 

Music always has been important at First Church. From the very 
beginning, the church has had a succession of talented musicians. 
Each added to the program, which now consists of many singing and hand- 
bell ensembles. These programs offer all ages the opportunity for partici- 
pation and service to the church community and for personal education 
and fellowship. These opportunities come through a variety of programs. 
Choir ensembles, which include adult, youth, and children's choirs, have 
grown in program and participation, especially since the 1940s. Member- 
ship in one of the various choirs may start at age four. First Church mem- 
ber Bill Kelly recalls being in choirs for twelve years under Choir Direc- 
tor Edith Warren. Mrs. Warren retired in 1969, after having replaced the 


Sanctuary showing choir loft and organ. 

Reverend Her ff Applewhite in 1953. "I was asked to stay for three months, 
and I stayed fifteen years," she said. Mrs. Warren was the chairman of an 
unofficial committee of choir members in 1961 that recommended that the 
choir and the organ be placed in the gallery of the sanctuary in the new 
building. John Hebblethwaite followed Edith Warren as director of mu- 
sic and organist. 

Hughes Huffman later became choir director. (His wife, Debbie Huff- 
man, was organist.) Mr. Huffman organized the Madrigal Singers, a 
Victorian-costumed double quartet that sang at churches and organiza- 
tions in Gastonia and the surrounding area. 

In 1985 Marcia Mau became music director. She built a children's choir 
program with the help of volunteer directors, and it was a part of the 
Wednesday-night Stuff n' Study program. She conducted major cho- 
ral works with the Sanctuary Choir, which often included other church 


One of our many talented youth choirs. 

choirs. The handbell program was also expanded during her ministry. She 
introduced Meet the Composer weekend with Helen Hubbard Kemp as 
guest conductor/composer. 

Jeff Weiss continued the Meet the Composer weekend, with other area 
churches participating. During his tenure, Allan Pote, Hal Hobson, and 
Andre Thomas were guest composers. Weiss took the Youth Choir on an 
out-of-state tour. In 2003, Anna Laura Page, a noted composer of cho- 
ral and handbell music, was the guest artist. She was commissioned by 
Janet Jackson and Leslie Lewis to write, "May the Grace of God Go with 
You," a choral benediction for voices and handbells. It was premiered un- 
der Miss Page's direction at the eleven o'clock Sunday morning worship 

Mrs. Ernest L. McFarland (Mary) became director of music in 1999, 
following her second tenure as interim director. Mrs. McFarland is a grad- 
uate of James Madison University and received a master's degree in voice 
performance from East Carolina University. A certified carillonneur and 
member of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America, she has the 
honor of having been invited to play for the National Congress of all caril- 
lonneurs at their annual meeting. She directs a variety of programs. Cur- 
rently "Ring and Sing" is presented by the five handbell ensembles each 



Mary McFarland, 
music director, 

December, with Christmas carols sung between the selections. The same 
groups of ringers present "Spring Ring" in May. The adult ringers partici- 
pate in the yearly Mid-Carolinas Bell Festival in Charlotte in November. 
The Sanctuary Choir has at least two special music offerings annually 
during morning worship, one in December, and the other during Lent. 
In December 1998, the Sanctuary Choir sang "Keyboards and Carols," 
arranged by Stephen Nielson and Ovid Young, duo pianists providing 
accompaniment. Choir members participate in the interdenominational 
mass choir for the annual community Thanksgiving-eve service. The Se- 
nior High Singers and Ringers and Middle High Singers and Ringers 

Opposite: The 2004 Sanctuary Choir. First row: Wanda Campbell, Jo Anne de la 
Vega, Jayne Howe, Charlene Swilling, Betty Burrell, Leslie Lewis. Second row, stand- 
ing: Mary McFarland, director; Suzanne McLean; Trip Stewart; Melanie Burch. 
Second row, seated: B'Ann Vance, Janet Leissner, Dottie LaFar, Katie Clark, Arlena 
Meek. Third row: JeffHudgins, Charlie Grissom, Tom Watson, Roger Hill, Charlie 
Burrell, Ben Morrow, Brian Schroeder. Absent: Bill Sherrill, Jim Poag, Beverly Poag, 
Laura Parson, Elaine Deason, Anna Renfro, Ellen Downey, Jan Jackson. 


Handbell choir 

offer a youth vesper concert in the spring. The Sanctuary Choir, Senior 
High Singers, and Middle School Singers combine to present a program 
in the fellowship hall for informal functions. 

"Lessons and Carols" and a special Christmas Eve service add at least 
one children's choir to those already mentioned. All of the children's choirs 
have a special Christmas Eve service. They also provide all of the music 
for the eleven o'clock Palm Sunday service. At the close of the year, they 
have a choir and talent program. Each June, thirty to forty church choir 
members and directors attend the weeklong Music and Worship Confer- 
ence in Montreat. Many children begin attending as rising fifth graders 
and continue until their high school graduation. 

Old church records mention Mrs. C. E. Adams as one of the first or- 
ganists, followed by Miss Stella Holland. No salary was paid until 1906. 
Mrs. W. Ralph Armstrong (Elizabeth) served as organist from 1946 to 
1959. A graduate of the Guilmant Organ School in New York, she studied 
at Juilliard School in New York City and at the Eastman School of Mu- 
sic in Rochester, New York. A member of the American Guild of Organ- 
ists, Mrs. Armstrong had taught organ at Limestone College in Gaffney, 




Judy Planer and her father Dr. Doug Aldrich, 
May 2004. 

John Siler, organist, 1981-2002. 

South Carolina, and at Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia. Mrs. Arm- 
strong was considered among the finest organists in the nation and often 
was asked to perform at national events. 

In 1981, the talented and beloved John Siler became First Church's or- 
ganist, serving for more than twenty years. He loved the quality organ 
this church offered. With a Ph.D. in music education from the Univer- 
sity of South Carolina, Dr. Siler is also a member of American Guild of 
Organists. Dr. Siler, generous with his time and talent, was always avail- 
able for ceremonies of the church and its parishioners. His organ concerts 
were highly anticipated events in the Gaston County musical community. 
Members of First Church of Gastonia honored Dr. Siler by celebrating 
his eighteenth anniversary with a reception and a generous gift. 

Timothy Belk became First Church's organist in 2003. A graduate of 
the North Carolina School of the Arts, Belk received a North Carolina 
Emerging Artist grant for postgraduate studies at the Conservatoire de Mu- 



Timothy Belk, organist, 2003-. 

sique in Geneva, Switzerland, where 
he was a pupil of the renowned organ- 
ist Lionel Rogg. He brought to the po- 
sition a broad performing and service- 
playing background as well as concert 
organization skills, as demonstrated in 
the creation of a new Music, Worship, 
and Arts Series. The ambitious series, 
underwritten with no expense to the 
church, features renowned concert 
artists. The special series began Octo- 
ber 19, 2003, with Susan Landale, or- 
ganist at Les Invalides, Paris; followed 
by Nova Vocce, a women's ensem- 
ble from Charlotte, on December 13, 
2003. Concert pianist John Noel from 
Houston, Texas, presented a beautiful 
concert on January 18, 2004, and on 
March 21, 2004, Gastonia native and mezzo-soprano Chriscynethia Floyd 
was featured. San Francisco— based vocal ensemble Chanticleer performed 
on November 24, 2004, and the world-famous Vienna Choir Boys brought 
the year's series to its climax on February 5, 2005. This prestigious pro- 
gram series of music, worship, and arts brings acclaim and opportunity 
to First Church's musical commitment. "The series is not just for music," 
Tim Belk said, "the church has always had an history of excellence in mu- 
sic, and this ambitious series reflects the Church's tradition." 

First Presbyterian Church always had provided fine musical instru- 
ments for the music program. The first organ, a Moeller instrument, was 
dedicated in 1898 and had to be pumped by hand, usually by the sexton. It 
is recorded that on one or two occasions, he had to be roused from a nap 
at the conclusion of the sermon to start the organ in order that the pipes 
be pumped and the last hymn sung. This organ was sold to the congre- 
gation of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in 1914. It was later electrified and 
was still in use in 1948. It had a very sweet tone, and some of our members 
would occasionally visit St. Mark's to hear it. 


A new Kimball pipe organ was installed at First Church in 1914, fol- 
lowed by a Kilgen in 1934. As noted earlier, the wonderful Casavant organ 
in today's Sanctuary was installed by Casavant Freres Limited of Quebec 
in 1961 at a cost of $68,000. First Church members Mary Sexton Smyre 
Templeton and her husband Elmer Templeton were instrumental in mak- 
ing sure the church had "the finest organ available." Richard Peek, music 
director and organist at Charlotte's Covenant Presbyterian Church, was 
the church's consultant. The company was so proud of this installation 
that it included a photograph of the organ on its 1962 Christmas card. 
The chapel organ was built by Schlicker of Buffalo, New York, with Rich- 
ard Peek as consultant again. Costing $14,874, the organ was premiered 
at Montreat for its 1967 Summer Conference and then installed in the 

From the beginning, the design of the church building had included a 
set of bells, a carillon, which would gracefully sweep skyward. A carillon, 
defined as a set of no fewer than twenty-five bells, dates to the fourteenth 
century in Europe. Funds were unavailable for a carillon when the church 

Confirmation class, April 9, 2000. 


Installation of the carillon, 1972—1973. The 1895 cornerstone was lost behind the 
carillon, only to be rediscovered in 2000 when the carillon was renovated. 

Bells arriving for carillon after being refurbished. 


was built in 1961. In 1972, a special committee headed by W. D. Lawson 
III recommended the installation of a carillon in the sanctuary tower. 

Lawson reported that the cost would be about $55,000, of which $33,235 
had already been pledged. Memorial gifts for the carillon are recorded in 
the Church Memorial Book in the Heritage Room. Other members of 
the committee were John M. Akers, William A. Current, W. Duke Kim- 
brell, B. Frank Matthews, T. Craig Watson, and Charles E. Zeigler. The 
Memorial Carillon of forty-nine bells was designed and installed by the 
Dutch firm of Eijsbouts Foundry. The Memorial Carillon was dedicated 
on Sunday, November 25, 1973, with a dedicatory concert by carillonneur 
Arie Abbenes from Asten, the Netherlands. 

The largest bell weighs 1,411 pounds and measures forty and seven- 
eighths inches in diameter. Four of the five largest bells bear biblical in- 
scriptions. The fifth largest, weighing 496 pounds, is inscribed, "This car- 
illon is dedicated to the glory of God, in loving memory of those who 
from their labors rest." The bells gradually descend in size, with the 
smallest weighing twenty-six pounds. The toll bell at the top of the caril- 
lon tower originally rang in the tower of the old church building on Mari- 
etta Street. 

John Hebblethwaite, who was director of music and organist at First 
Church when the carillon was installed, became the carillonneur and com- 
posed a special piece of music called "Gastonia Change" for the carillon. 
It was introduced on September 9, 1979. Hebblethwaite also produced 
a recording of sacred music performed on the First Church Casavant 

The carillon was completely renovated and rededicated on Sunday, 
October 13, 2002. John Courter, one of America's foremost carillonneurs 
and composers for the instrument, was commissioned by Dr. and Mrs. 
Raul de la Vega to compose "Scottish Fantasy" for the rededication. First 
Church members and guests were treated to a recital offered by Mary Mc- 
Farland, church carillonneur, and Mr. Richard Watson, who completely 
renovated the carillon. Guests sat outside on folding chairs in the delight- 
ful afternoon fall weather. 

Traditionally, a program of four carillon recitals is presented annually. 
A guest artist is invited to play one program, and the remainder of the 


The 2004 Communicants Class at "The Pad." Top row: The Rev. Patrick Perryman, 
Brock Weston, Andrew Dickson, Brittany Hovis, William Quarles, Mary Houston 
Matthews, Clara Owen, Christine Lanz, Evan Roberts, Ross Wilson, Brendan 
Withers, William Wren, Kate Fitzmaurice, Dr. David Stoker. Second row: Anna 
Vaughn, Alex Thomas, Sarah de la Vega, Kendall McCurry, Taylor Hill, Ashley 
Hovis, Ali Williams. Third row: Jonathan Kimray, Ernest Sumner, Rob Stover, 
Griffin Wise, Will Choquet. 

programs are played by church carillonneurs, whose ranks have included 
Helen Styers, Peggy Walton, Amelia Pritchett, Charlene Swilling, Jo Anne 
de la Vega, Trip Stewart, Kim Petit, and Katie Clark. 

Yet another beautiful instrument was given to the church in 2000, 
when a Steinway grand piano finished in walnut was purchased for the 
sanctuary. On September 17, pianist /composer Loonis McGlohon played 
a dedicatory program. The Sanctuary Choir sang his composition 'Teach 
Me Lord," and the Carol Choir sang one of his children's anthems. 

The position of Director of Children's Music Ministries was created 
in 1996. Janice Wilkerson, music specialist in the Gaston County Schools 



Rev. Patrick Perryman 
and twins Jack and Henry 
Current, April 13, 2003. 

David Pegram, First 
Presbyterian's chief 
photographer, 2003. 

and holder of an Orff certification, was 
hired. Daniel Wynkoop, music instruc- 
tor at Gaston Day School, replaced her 
in 2001. 

However, the music program has 
sometimes been less than harmonious. 
In the 1990s a committee appointed by 
Session and chaired by Elaine Deason 
was asked to study the adoption of a 
new Presbyterian hymnal. Mrs. Dea- 
son reported that the committee rec- 
ommended new blue hymnals to be 
used in the sanctuary and the chapel. 
The old, red hymnbooks were to be 



used in the fellowship hall and the various Sunday school classrooms. 
Some elders objected because of the modern terminology used in some 
hymns. Much of the objection to the new hymnal stemmed from modify- 
ing or deleting old favorites that dealt with war — hymns such as the "Bat- 
tle Hymn of the Republic" and "Onward Christian Soldiers." The Session 
voted to accept the recommendation twenty- five to five. "I thought the 
tone of the meeting was remarkable," session moderator John DeBevoise 
wrote to the congregation in the church newsletter. "On an issue where 
obviously a number of Elders had strong feelings, they addressed those 
feelings with love and respect for one another. Now is the time for this 
congregation to blend together our voices in unity, singing hymns with 
praise to our Lord and God." Today both the red and blue hymnbooks 
are used in the sanctuary and chapel. 

Who are we, Lord, 

that you have called us through these waters 

and by the cross, 

to be your people? 
We are feeble, frail and fallen. 
We are a stubborn and stiff necked people. 
Yet, you love us in spite of this, 

and you have drawn us to you 

that we might be molded and shaped 

into your likeness. 
Lord, this is love so great 

that it is almost more than we can bear. 
This is grace so powerful 

that it cannot be of ourselves, 

but can only be your gift. 
And so Lord we gather around the font 

and see your hand at work. 
We make promises as parents 

and as your people, 

that we know we cannot fulfill on our own. 


Laying on of hands, the ordination and installation of officers. 

And we are reminded that that is precisely the point. 

The grace that has fallen on us is not our own doing. 

The power that moves in these waters has its source only in you. 

As you brought your people through the waters, 

and rested them safely on the other side, 

so you have done for us. 
You are our beginning and our ending, 

our life and our meaning. 
You are our God, 

and we are your people. 

Thanks be to God. 


— A baptismal prayer for First Presbyterian Church ofGastonia, 
given September 2001 by the Reverend John C. Pruitt, associate 
minister, 1999—2002 



Chapter Fourteen 

Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the ever- 
lasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, 
fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his 

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might 
he increaseth strength. 

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men 
shall utterly fall: 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and 
not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 

— Isaiah 40:28—31 

Christian denominations globally are reflecting a change in the church's 
role today. The Presbyterian Church, like other denominations, is 
struggling to maintain membership in the face of deteriorating growth in 
church attendance and programs. The traditional church in the United 
States, and also in Gastonia, from its earliest establishment was the center 
of the community. The church came to house community programs that 
grew the church membership. Now communities have diverse and numer- 
ous activities, and such program opportunities are held in many institu- 
tions other than the church. 

First Church, Gastonia, by remaining loyal to traditional Christian 


values and by accepting new attitudes toward the twenty-first-century 
church, has continued to maintain her church programs. After-school 
care, innovative youth and music programs, broadened adult educational 
opportunities, and a choice in time and manner of worship are ways in 
which First Presbyterian Church has combated the diminishing interest in 
the global church in the last twenty- five years. 

There are a number of current member families of First Church who 
can look backward and forward at the same time. They are the second-, 
third-, fourth-, and even fifth-generation members whose fathers, moth- 
ers, grandparents, and great-grandparents devoted much of their lives to 
the church. Perhaps First Church members got a glimpse of their future 
on Sunday, September 28, 2003, when the more modern Joy in the Morn- 
ing service and the more sedate, traditional eleven o'clock service were 
combined for the first time. It resulted in a ninety-minute marathon mix- 
ture of praise songs and stately hymns. 

History and Archives Committee member Charlton Torrence gave this 

There are so many members who have helped First Church in so 
many ways and so many times, yet have not truly received their 
deserved recognition. It would be impossible to name each individual 
and his or her contributions to the church and not inadvertently 
overlook a few very special members. 

In growing from twenty-two members in 1882 to a present-day 
membership of 1,315, many changes and decisions have been made, 
most of them good, but not all. However, changes are what make 
and help a church become a better church. 

Some members have transferred to other churches, just as in 1882, 
when sixteen members from Olney Presbyterian and four from 
Union (and two on profession of faith) came together to begin First 
Presbyterian Church of Gastonia. 

First Presbyterian has always been a leader, as well as an inspiring 
church. First Church is destined to become a greater church in the 
community and outside it. Maybe, First Church is ready to accept 
the challenge John DeBevoise made us in February 1995: "A one- 


Left to right: the Westminster Confession (England, 1646), the Apostles' Creed (early 
church), the Nicene Creed (fourth century). 

million-dollar benevolence campaign to be conducted internally 
among the members with no outside consultant!" 

As First Presbyterian Church continues into its third century, the exact 
nature of its future appears uncertain, but the love of the church, collec- 
tive family values, and the desire to worship together are strong enough 
to ensure that there will be a First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia for 
years to come. 


Indeed, First Presbyterian's swooping roofline, polished fittings, and 
full programs stand in amazing contrast to the original churches' ragged 
congregations of Philippi, Corinth, and Ephesus. It was there in the Mid- 
dle East and Africa that Peter and other apostles, and later St. Paul, drew 
the theological architecture for the good news of the Gospel. So much of 
the church has changed to the eye, and yet so little of the church at the 
heart is different. Central to the church is the proclamation that Jesus 
Christ is Lord. The ways in which First Presbyterian Church has made 
that proclamation in the last 123 years is the history of First Presbyterian 
Church. The ways in which First Presbyterian Church continues to make 
that proclamation is the future of First Presbyterian Church. 



message from the pastor, i948 

The Reverend Mr. I. M. Ellis 

It is my earnest hope that from the reading of this history of our beloved 
church will come a fresh appreciation of the spiritual heritage that is ours. 
Sacrifice, love, and devotion have been manifested through the years by 
pastors and members. The rediscovery of our accomplishments as they 
have been blessed by God may also lead us to care intelligently and plan 
wisely for the future. As someone has said, "Only those can care intelli- 
gently about the future to whom the past is dear." 

We cannot go forward on the momentum of past generations. We must 
make our own history. If we are proud of the history of the past, then we, 
the living, must through our own dedication and devotion move forward 
to greater achievements in the days to come. This will only be possible as 
the total membership realizes the responsibility that rests upon every one 
who names the name of Christ, and who places his name upon the roll of 
God's church. 

In these days of uncertainties and conflicting ideologies, we must look 
into the future with confidence, realizing that the church has the answer 
to the world's need, in a loving God, "who hath reconciled us to Him- 
self by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation." 
Therefore, let every one of us, deeply grateful for the past, and desiring to 
be of service to Him in the present and future, renew our vows of dedica- 
tion as we pray and sing: 

/ love Thy Church, O God; 
Her walls before Thee stand, 


Dear as the apple of Thine eye, 

And graven on Thy hand. 

For her my tears shall fall, 

For her my prayers ascend; 

To her my cares and toils be given, 

Till toils and cares shall end. 

— Originally printed in the History of First Presbyterian 
Church, by Hugh A. Query, 1948 



David Pegram, who took many of the photographs for this book, has 
been a member of First Church since 1971. He and his wife Lucille, who 
were members of New Hope Baptist Church at the time, were driving 
by First Church one day when he turned to Lucille, and said, "Some- 
thing is making me go to church here today." They turned in the drive- 
way and went to services that day and have been attending here ever 
since. Pegram has photographed our church life and has served as the 
official driver on many trips by the Trotters and on other occasions. 
Robert Ragan of Charlotte, son of Jocelyn Sikes and Caldwell Ragan 
and a distinguished author in his own right, contributed his experience 
as a Presbyterian and former First Church member and gave excellent 
advice on research procedures. The author is grateful to Mr. Ragan. 
Geraldine Johnston, an authority on grammar and punctuation and an 
active member of First Church, edited the draft for grammatical cor- 

Lisbet Nielsen has been a willing and consistent support in both re- 
search and production for A Christian Witness. 

Cookie Brenner, chairman of the Committee of History and Archives, 
has steered the committee with exceptional wisdom, understanding of 
the project, and a clear focus. Her untiring efforts and zealous dedica- 
tion and determination to have an outstanding history that is accurate 
and inclusive are worthy of note. It can unequivocally be said that with- 
out her remarkable wise leadership, this book would not be the out- 
standing history the committee is pleased to present. 
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of A Christian Wit- 
ness. The book committee regrets any errors which may remain. 

The Committee of History and Archives 



Historical Timeline 

1847 North Carolina legislature creates Gaston County. 

1872 Railroad relocates to Gastonia from Dallas, North Caro- 

lina, creating a trading crossroads. 

1875 The Reverend W. B. Corbett conducts services from rail- 

road depot. 

1875— 1882 Services continue from the Falls Hotel, in an old store- 
house, and in the old Gastonia Academy until the little 
First Church is built near Long Avenue. 

1877 Gastonia incorporates, population 200. 

1882 Mecklenburg Presbytery with Union and Olney Churches 
organize new Presbyterian Church, the First Presbyterian 
Church of Gastonia, July 16. 

Captain J. Q. Holland, first clerk of Session. 

First organ was a reed instrument. 

1882-1884 The Reverend J. J. Kennedy, supply pastor. 

1882-1899 The Reverend M. McG. Shields, pastor, 1897-1904, writes 
first church history in 1899, covering 1882-1899. Only two 
copies remain; one is now on exhibit in Heritage Room. 
His son, Ernest Shields II, writes "Oh, Davidson," the 
fight song for Davidson College. 

1883 Membership 33, contributions $1,050. 

A 35x50 brick church seating four hundred and costing 
$1,500 is dedicated at what is now 211 W. Long Avenue. 

1884 Mrs. A. M. Smyre, first president of Ladies' Aide Society. 
1884-1885 The Reverend L. R. McCormick, supply pastor. 


1886 The Reverend W. E. Mcllwaine accepts call as first pas- 

tor for First Presbyterian Church half of his time, with the 
other half at New Hope Presbyterian Church. 

1889 Mrs. R. C. G. Love, first president of Ladies Home and 
Foreign Missionary Society. 

1890 Membership 141, contributions $1,229. 

1891 The Reverend C. W. Robinson accepts call as first full- 
time pastor. 

Miss Lizzie Adams, lady manager of Children's Missionary 
Society. Tablet in her honor on display in Heritage Room. 

Membership 170, contributions $3,175. 

1893 Membership 205, contributions $2,139. 

1893-1896 The Reverend R. P. Smith accepts call as pastor. Pastor 
during construction of Marietta Street Church. 

1893-1897 Walter R. Lingle, assistant to Rev. R. P. Smith. He does 
home mission work in Gaston County and later is presi- 
dent of the Assembly's Training School for lay workers, 
moderator of the General Assembly, and president of 
Davidson College. 

1895 Construction of Marietta Street Church. It is of "pressed" 
red brick from Washington, D.C. Marietta Street Church 
is completed in nine months. 

1896 The Charlotte Observer notes that the Reverend R. P. 
Smith of First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia writes a 
monthly church newsletter and suggests other churches 
should consider publishing a newsletter. 

1896-1904 The Reverend M. McG. Shields accepts call as pastor. 

1897 Marietta Street Church debt is retired. 

1898 Moeller organ purchased for Marietta Street Church. The 
Moeller organ, which was dedicated in 1898, had to be 
pumped by hand. 

Dr. C. E. Adams is named superintendent of Sabbath 
school after resignation of Mr. J. A. Boyd. Dr. Adams 
remains superintendent until Sunday morning Christian 
education becomes known as Sunday school. 


1905 Dr. R. C. Anderson accepts call as pastor. 

Dr. Anderson organizes the Men's Bible Class, later renamed 
the Henderlite Class in honor of Dr. J. H. Henderlite. 

1909 Miss Alice Daniels works diligently to organize Piedmont 

Chapel, a mission in a mill village off Broad Street. It thrives 
and continues successfully until 1970s, when village homes 
are replaced by commerce. 

1912 Dr. J. H. Henderlite accepts call as pastor. 

1914 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas L. Craig donate the first Kimball 
pipe organ. 

1915 North Carolina Presbyterian Synod meets at First Pres- 
byterian Church, Gastonia. This is quite an honor to host 
the Synod. A photo of the meeting is on display in 
Heritage Room. 

1917 United States enters World War I. 

1918 The Reverend George Gillespie becomes Dr. Hender- 
lite 's first assistant pastor. This indicates the growth of the 
church and the need for additional administration. 

1920 Mrs. S. A. Kinley, president of Woman's Auxiliary. 

Woman's Auxiliary institutes Ladies Church Circle program 
as adopted by the General Assembly. Twelve circles are 

Membership 800, contributions $55,076. 

1923 Mr. Dendy serves as first Scoutmaster. 

1923-1924 Mrs. W. Y. Gardner collects Octagon Soap wrappers to 
finance furnishings (flatware and china) for the church 
kitchen. China is on display in Heritage Room. 

1924 Membership 928, contributions $53,092. 

1926 Dr. Joe Overmyer, beloved musician, promotes music 

1927 A service is held to honor six couples (members of the 
church) observing their golden wedding anniversaries: Mr. 
and Mrs. John F. Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. E. Meek Adams, 
Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Smyre, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Spencer, 
Rev. and Mrs. J. N. McLean, and Mr. and Mrs. R. R. Ray. 


1927 Membership 975, contributions $50,649. 

1929 Stock market crash. 

1929-1934 Dr. Henderlite's salary is reduced at his request, reflecting 
economic foreboding in textile center. 

1930s First Presbyterian Church participates in Orthopedic 

Hospital Ministry. 

1930 Mrs. D. E. McConnell begins Cradle Roll department 
(first toddler Sunday school). 

1931 The Reverend C. G. McKnight, music director. 

Woman's Auxiliary collects $7.00 to furnish Barium 
Springs Orphanage with celery for Thanksgiving dinner. 

1934 Deacons adopt rotary system. 

1935 Mr. C. C. Kimbrell takes Troop 11 and serves many distin- 
guished years as Scoutmaster. 

1936-1948 Mr. J. E. Lindsey, beloved church sexton, serves with 
memorable distinction. 

1937 Miss Ola Moton, city missionary. Church sponsors era of 
home missions. 

1938 Church calls Rev. I. M. Ellis as associate pastor, youth 
minister, and choir director. 

Membership 1,041, contributions $28,470. 

Woman's Auxiliary, Mrs. L. N. Patrick, president, pledges 
nearly $800 for new church carpet. The amount was paid 
in full in two years. 

1940 The Reverend I. M. Ellis accepts call as pastor. 

Membership 1,193, contributions $27,497. 

1940s Mrs. George V. Patterson teaches Nellie Warren Bible 

Class for more than twenty-five years. 

Mr. D. R. LaFar Jr., elder, serves Synod and Davidson 
College as vice chair of Board of Trustees for many years. 
Continues distinguished service to local and regional 

Mr. T. M. Mackorell, Boy Scoutmaster. 


1940 Mrs. Emmett Morrison encourages Bible education in 
public schools. 

1941 Miss Bess Jackson becomes church secretary. 

Church remodels sanctuary at a cost of $35,000. Choir 
moves to front of sanctuary. A large wooden door rolls 
down to allow part of the sanctuary to be used as a Sunday 
school classroom. 

Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, December 7. 

1941-1946 Saturday night activities at Church for USO. Woman's 
Auxiliary sponsors entertainment and socials. 

1942 United States enters World War II. 

Martha Enck, first full-time director of music. 

Katherine McChesney, first full-time director of religious 

Membership 1,210, contributions $50,316. 

1944 Mr. William R. Sparrow, first president of Men's Fellow- 

ship Club. 

1948 Church publishes History of First Presbyterian Church by 

Hugh A. Query. 

Four downtown churches establish a Christian Day 
School, originally meeting at the Methodist Church. Later 
each main-line church establishes its own program. This is 
probably the seed for Presbyterian Weekday School. 

1950 Korean War. 

1950s Nellie Warren Bible Class thrives. Many women contribute 

to church programs through participation in this class. 

Well-established mission at Piedmont Chapel grows with 
prominent leaders from First Church: Mr. and Mrs. Fred 
Moss, Mrs. Jerry Shive, Mr. Wade Williford, Mrs. John 
Wilkins, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gordon, Mr. John Parks. 

1952 Dr. Harry M. Moffett accepts call as pastor. 

1954 Radio ministry begins and continues until 2001. 

1955 Fred A. Ratchford begins service as clerk of Session, serves 
long tenure totaling ten years. 


1955 Herald Class sponsors fundraising sale of quilt blocks. 

Each block sells for $0.25. Quilt is on display in Heritage 
Room. Quilt is then auctioned off. Herald and Nellie War- 
ren Sunday school classes merge to become the Women's 
Bible Class. 

Wednesday Evening Prayer Service becomes Downtown 
Noon Prayer Service. 

Church acquires 10.95 acres for $32,580 from Ratchford 

1957 Congregation votes to relocate physical plant to Kendrick 

Road (now Garrison Boulevard). 

Church acquires two adjoining smaller parcels of land 
from Owens family. 

Vanguard Bible Class changes its name to Eunice Warren 
Bible Class in honor of Mrs. W Y. Warren. Her photo- 
graph is on display in Heritage Room. 

1959 Mrs. J. H. Matthews gifts White Chapel Handbells. 

Elders adopt Rotary System. 

i960 Mrs. Dane S. Rhyne resigns as church hostess after thirty 


Church holds groundbreaking for new structure, April 10. 

1961 Vietnam War. 

Church publishes The First Presbyterian Church ofGasto- 
nia, NC: A History by Charles F. Daniel, a sequel to the 
Query history. 

Church moves to Garrison Boulevard. Congregation holds 
services in fellowship hall until sanctuary is completed. 

Congregation honors Mr. Harry Rutter for serving as elder 
for fifty years. 

1962 Presbyterian Weekday School established; Ellen F. Bowen 
first director. 

First wedding in new sanctuary: Jennie Winget and Gene 


1964 Congregation holds first Maundy Thursday service. 

1968 Dr. James G. Stuart accepts call as pastor. 

Mrs. J. C. Taylor (Nonie) begins use of Dewey decimal 
system for church library. 

1969 Margaret Summerell, first woman elder. 

1970 Mr. Dan C. Howe, first financial secretary. 

1970s Pastor's Aide Program flourishes. Mrs. Ralph Falls 

(Tommye) chairs. 

Leon Alexander, Craig Watson steer major fund-raising 
campaign for church capital improvements. 

1971 Congregation begins Ritual of Friendship. 

1972 Mothers' Morning Out begins. 

1973 Church installs carillon. Meals on Wheels organizes at 
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Presbyterians participate. 

1974 First Christmas Eve candlelight service held in sanctuary. 

Student Loan Fund established by anonymous donor, apart 
from scholarship opportunities. 

1975 Dr. Peter Carruthers gives first children's sermon. 
Sunday 9:00 a.m. service starts for summer months. 

1976 First pictorial directory. 

1977 Presbyterian Endowment Trust (PET) is established. 

1980 Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Robinson donate home on New Hope 
Road to church. Proceeds from sale added to Presbyterian 
Endowment Trust. 

1980s Five downtown churches hold first Thanksgiving-eve 


1981 Session directs purchase of first church van. 

Through sealed bids, congregation purchases pews from 
Piedmont Chapel, formerly pews in the Marietta Street 
Church. Two are in Heritage Room. 

1982 Covenant Village opens. 


1982 Women of the Church publish One Hundred Years of 


1984 Session establishes permanent Personnel Committee. 

Church office installs first computer, gift of Parkdale 

Heritage Campaign funds capital improvements. 

Membership 1,666, contributions $536,181. 

1985 Missions program initiates Two-Cents-a-Meal monthly 

First Lay Renewal weekend. 

Presbyterians join Holy Trinity Lutheran Church to 
sponsor Vietnamese refugee family. 

1986 Mr. and Mrs. David W. Royster Jr. donate Greyhound 

1987 Susie and George W. Ragan Spiritual Enrichment Fund is 
established to sponsor noted speakers for spiritual enrich- 
ment weekends. 

1988 Session approves study of columbarium. 
Stuff 'n' Study begins on Wednesday nights. 
Monthly communion services begin at 9:00 a.m. 

1990 Dr. John DeBevoise accepts call as pastor. 

Home Mission program builds first Habitat for Humanity 
House, "House of Faith." 

Church Session authorizes publication of first annual re- 
port, which is given to congregation. This report includes 
year's work of all committees. Copy available in Heritage 

Caroline Gourly, Presbytery Executive, notes that First 
Presbyterian Church pays 10 percent of Presbytery budget. 

Christmas Eve 11:00 p.m. communion service begins. 

1991 DCE Allison Lineberger implements afterschool program. 

Guidelines for officers prohibit Session and Diaconate 


199 1 Barium Springs Board of Regents confers title of regent 
emeritus on Mr. Bynum Carter. 

1992 Task Force on Older Adults. 

Session confers pastor emeritus title on Dr. James G. 

Session discusses Presbytery request for development of 
new church in southeast Gastonia (which became South- 
minster Presbyterian). Session endorses study. 

1993 Session rejects Family Life Center concept. 

1994 Super Cupboard opens on regular weekday basis. 

Second Habitat House opens. 

Dr. John Leith is scholar in residence for two months, 
financed by Ragan Spiritual Enrichment Funds. 

Session endorses aiding Third Street Presbyterian Church 
when city renovation relocates church to North Highland 
Street. PET contributes $300,000 to construction of new 

1995 Presbytery opens local counseling program, Samaritan 
Counseling Center, now located in Cherryville. 

Administration sponsors fourteen-week course for officer 

Total congregation contributions pass $1 million mark. 

Session approves establishing Stephen Ministry program. 

Record attendance on Easter Sunday. 

Presbyterian Women publish Dinner Chimes. 

Church hosts "100 Men Who Cook" fellowship, pro- 
grams, and dinners by Third Street Presbyterian. These 
events meet in the fellowship hall. 

Presbyterian Women receive honor-roll certificate for their 
Blanket the World contributions. 

1996 WSOC-TV awards Nine Who Care plaque for Super 

Dr. David Stoker accepts call as pastor. 


1997 Dr. Stoker arrives in Gastonia. First sermon, March 12. 

Church provides monetary aid to First Presbyterian 
Church, Grand Forks, North Dakota, for flood relief. 
Church provides new paraments for First Presbyterian 
Church in Greenville, North Carolina, for those lost due 
to Hurricane Fran. 

Outside consultant presents long-range plan for church. 

Building and Grounds Committee orders new chapel sound 
system and new cushions for sanctuary and chapel pews. 

Session employs Pat Morrow as temporary business admin- 

Session approves Vision 2000 study. 

Session honors Dorothy McKenzie for her twenty years as 
director of Presbyterian Weekday School. 

Elders work with existing committees and senior minis- 
ter for implementation of new Session model. Report and 
schedules are published in Newsline. 

Suggested committee structure reduces standing commit- 
tees significantly. 

1998 Church accepts Salvation Army Good Neighbor Award. 

PET has received a total of $1.1 million from the Carroll 
Harmon estate. 

Session employs two youth directors. 

Nursery renovation is completed. New computer system is 
installed. Funds are appropriated for organ renovation and 
paving parking lot. 

Received approximately $1,267,658 from Frank Davis 

Dr. Wilson Rhoton becomes interim associate minister. 

Session approves purchasing a twenty-one-passenger bus for 


1999 Building and Grounds Committee installs new sanctuary 
dimmer system. 


1999 Session adopts new format for Nominating Committee: 
two from Session, one from Diaconate, four from 

Linda Dixon retires as church secretary. 

Session employs Pat Morrow as permanent church 

2000 Carillon tower is renovated to accommodate care of bells. 

2001 Terrorists attack United States, September n. 

Rev. John Pruitt and Rev. Patrick Perryman conduct prayer 
services in sanctuary immediately after terrorist attacks. 

Session joins Confessing Church Movement. (Withdraws 
in 2005.) 

2002 Membership 1,482, approved budget $1.37 million. 

Memorial gifts honoring J. Caswell Taylor (died February 
2002) renovate Church Library. 

Session approves Joy in the Morning service at 8:45 a.m.; 
time later changed to 9:00 a.m. Church adds fellowship 
time with refreshments preceding 11:00 a.m. service. 

Session approves establishment of Committee of History 
and Archives as subcommittee of Building and Grounds 

Marion Ellis engaged as author of First Presbyterian 
Church history. 

Session approves former audiovisual room as Heritage 

2003 Membership 1,482, approved budget $1,463 million. 

Session contracts with catering service for Wednesday 
Prayer Lunch and evening meals. 

2004 Fourth Habitat House is dedicated in August. 

Session approves participation in Interfaith Hospitality 

2004 Membership 1,315, approved budget $1,562 million. 

2005 Dr. Stoker announces his intention to Session to seek 
another call. 


Members of First Presbyterian Who Have Become Ministers 

David M. Cameron 
Mary Faith Carson 
Julie McM. Ciine 
Ernest W. Davis 
William G. Forrest 
Graham Fowler 
Gary M. Fulton 
Rachel Henderlite 
Joanne R. Hull 
R. Manfred Johnston IV 
Frank McG. Kincaid 
David R. Lytle 
J. Houston Matthews III 
Neely D. McCarter 

Frank McLaughen 

Augustus A. McLean 

William (Bill) Owens 

Pamela M. Patrick (Cole) 

Peggy K. Patrick (Turner) 

Peggy Melissa Patrick (Hauser) 

Robert W Ratchford 

E. R. Rinehart 

Clyde O. Robinson Jr. 

B. O. Shannon 

H. W. Shannon 

George Sinclair 

Robert James (Bobby Jim) Wilkins 

Tommy Lee Wilson Jr. 

Presbyterian Church Members Who Have Received 
the Silver Beaver Award of the Boy Scouts of America 

M. T Cameron 
J. Bynum Carter 
Wesley A. Daniel 
Ralph Dickson Sr. 
Martha D. Eddins 
W B. Garrison 
Joseph E. Gettys 
W Alex Hall 

W Duke Kimbrell 
D. R. LaFar Jr. 
Dan S. LaFar Sr. 
David R. LaFar III 
James H. McKenzie 
James C. Poag Jr. 
Gordon Quarles Jr. 
Fred L. Smyre 


Clerks of the Session 

Capt. J. Q. Holland 1885-1893 

B. G. Bradley 1893-1897 

Capt. J. Q. Holland 1897-1911 

J. A. Hunter 1911-1929 

John O. Rankin 1929-1931 

Sam A. Robinson 1931-1942 

B. T. Dickson 1942-1946 

Robert A. Gordon 1946-1947 

Hugh A. Query 1948-1952 

James G. Jackson 1952-1955 

Fred A. Ratchford 1955-1962, 1969-1972, 1975 

M. T. Cameron 1963-1964 

John C. Mason Jr. 1965-1968 

Ralph S. Robinson Jr. I973 _I 974> 1976-1978 

Minor R. Adams Jr. 1979-1981 

James B. Garland Jr. 1982-1984 

Fred L. Smyre 1985-1986 

Emily G. Simpson 1987-1988, 1995-1996, 1999-2001 

Robert E. Sumner III 1989 

William L. Craig Jr. 1990 

Sarah A. Abernethy 1991-1992 

Philip R. Williams 1993 

Douglas L. Stover 1994 

John W Calhoun 1997-1998 

Barbara H. Voorhees 2002 

Susan T. McCurry 2003 

W Gordon Quarles Jr. 2004-2005 


Associate Ministers of First Presbyterian Church 

George R. Gillespie 1918-1924 

Joe Overmyer 1926-1934 

C. G. McKnight 1931-1937 

Irving M. Ellis 1937-1940 

Linwood Cheshire 1944-1946 

J. N. Brown 1954-1966 

John Kimbirl 1966— 1970 

Ralph Bright 1970-1973 

Peter C. (Pete) Carruthers 1974-1978 

Stephen W. Caddell 1978-1984 

Frank Mayes 1980-1989 

Keith Uffman 1986-1989 

Ronald J. Gilreath 1991-1999 

Robert Messick-Watkins 1992-1997 

Gary Fulton 1996-1997 

John C. Pruitt 1999-2002 

Patrick H. Perryman 2000— 


Directors of Religious/ Christian Education 

Irving M. Ellis, DRE 


Helen Hubbard, DRE 


Katherine McChesney (Mackie), DRE 


Mary Olive Walker (McChesney), DRE 


Eubank Taylor, DCE 


Gayla Sandel Woody, DCE 


Ernie Davis, DCE 


Allison Gordon (Lineberger), DCE 



Ernie Davis 


Reverend Keith Uffman 


Jim McAlhaney 


Reverend Rob Messick-Watkins 


Luke Langston 


Sarah Chamberlain 


Pratt Butler 


Courtney Butler 



Allison Gordon (Lineberger) 


Laura Parsons 



Reverend Ron Gilreath 
Reverend John Pruitt 
Reverend Patrick Perryman 





Directors of Music 

Edgar Love 1926 

Joe Overmyer 1926-1934 

C. G. McKnight 1931-1937 

Irving M. Ellis 1937-1940 

Helen Hubbard (Kemp) 1940-1942 

Martha Enck (Loftin) 1942-1943 

Emma Binns (Bercaw) 1943-1945 

Roy Wheeler 1945-1948 

Mrs. E. M. Dozier 1949-1950 

Mildred Romer 1950-1951 

Her f Applewhite 1953— 1955 

Edith Warren 1955-1969 

John Hebblethwaite 1970-1976 

Hughes Huffman 1976-1979 

Janet Graham 1980-1984 

Marcia Sommers (Mau) 1985-1993 

Jeff Weiss 1994-1998 

Mary F. McFarland 1998- 


Presidents of the Presbyterian Women s Organizations 

The original Women's Group began in 1884 and was called Ladies' Aide 
Society. The first president was Mrs. A. M. Smyre. In 1887, the name 
was changed to Ladies' Home and Foreign Missionary Society. During 
the time this name was in use (1884— 1896), the following women served 
as presidents: Mrs. McCormick, Mrs. R. C. G. Love, Mrs. Mclwaine, 
Mrs. R. N. Wilson, Mrs. Alexander, Mrs. J. F. Love, and Mrs. D. E. 
McConnell. In 1905, Ladies' Missionary Society president was Mrs. Lela 
Shuford Reid. 

Women of the Church began in 1920. In 1989-1990, the organization 
was renamed Presbyterian Women. The following ladies have served as 

*Mrs. S. A. Kindley 
*Mrs. G. W Ragan 
*Mrs. W. Y. Warren 
*Miss Mary Ragan 
*Mrs. P. R. Falls 
*Mrs. Norman Morrow 
*Mrs. Harry Rutter 
*Mrs. J. L. Kendrick 
*Mrs. C. I. Loftin 
*Mrs. W. F. Michael 
*Mrs. L. N. Patrick 
*Mrs. S. E. Morrison 
*Mrs. Caldwell Ragan 
*Mrs. Vivian Rankin 
*Mrs. Von W Hollinger 
*Mrs. W L. Wilson 
*Mrs. O. Douglas Boyce 
*Mrs. Hugh A. Query 
*Mrs. J. N. Summerell 
*Mrs. T L. Wilson 
Mrs. W. H. Jarman 























Presidents of the Presbyterian Women's Organizations (continued) 

*Mrs. E. L. Patterson 1960-1961 

*Mrs. W. L. Wetzell Jr. 1961-1962 

*Mrs. Branson Zeigler 1963-1964 

*Mrs. O. Douglas Boyce 1964-1965 

*Mrs. James B. Garland 1965-1966 

Mrs. Verne Shive 1967-1968 

Mrs. Roy Kelly 1968-1969 

*Mrs. Fred Lytle 1969-1971 

Mrs. Neale Patrick 1971— 1972 

Mrs. Ben Drake 1972-1973 

Mrs. H. S. Mackie 1973-1974 

*Mrs. George W. Ragan 1974-1975 

*Mrs. C. JeffMcArver 1975-1976 

Mrs. George Miller 1976-1977 

Mrs. John Peden 1977-1978 

Mrs. Banks Bolin 1978-1979 

Mrs. William H. Keith 1979-1980 

Mrs. David H. Simpson 1980-1981 

*Mrs. Glendall King 1981-1982 

Mrs. W. Danford Wilson 1983-1984 

Mrs. Ben W Knauss 1984-1985 

Mrs. J. Ben Morrow 1985-1986 

Mrs. P. W. Aycock Jr. 1986-1987 

Mrs. Garland Atkins 1987-1988 

Mrs. D. Pat Craig 1988-1990 

Mrs. Donald Barringer 1990-1991 

Mrs. Algie Wilson 1991-1992 

Mrs. C. Ellis Fisher 1992-1993 

Mrs. Charles Wetzell 1993-1994 

Mrs. Tom D. Efird 1994-1995 

Mrs. M. Lance Brenner 1995-1996 

Mrs. R. William Kelly 1996-1997 

Mrs. William P. Adams 1997-1998 

Mrs. Franklin Molen 1998-1999 


Mrs. William Pritchett 
Mrs. Robert Sumner 
Mrs. David Ratchford 
Mrs. C. Daniel Page 
Mrs. Steven Williams 
Mrs. Jeffrey Owens 


Honorary Life Memberships 

Honorary Life Membership in the Presbyterian Women organization is 
conferred upon an individual in recognition of faithful service in some 
area of the church's work. 

No awards were given 1981-1989. 

*Mrs. J. H. Henderlite 


*Mrs. C. I. Loftin 


*Mrs. G. W. Ragan 


*Mrs. S. A. Kindley 


*Mrs. Von Hollinger 


*Mrs. Harry Rutter 


*Mrs. W. F. Michael 


*Mrs. D. E. McConnell 


*Miss Bess Jackson 


*Mrs. V. G. Grier 


*Mrs. P. R. Falls 


*Mrs. G. V. Patterson 


*Mrs. J. F. Thompson 


*Mrs. L. N. Patrick 


*Mrs. J. L. Kendrick 


*Mrs. W G. Rhyne 




Honorary Life Memberships (continued) 

*Mrs. W. Y. Warren 1955 

*Mrs. Norman Morrow 1955 

*Mrs. R. A. Gordon 1956 

*Mrs. W. L. Wilson 1956 

*Miss Mildred Lineberger 1957 

*Mrs. S. A. Robinson 1957 

*Mrs. Vivian Rankin 1958 

*Mrs. J. G. Jackson 1958 

*Mrs. S. J. Hood 1959 

*Mrs. R. C. McLean 1959 

*Mrs. Harry Cobb i960 

*Mrs. J. H. Matthews i960 

*Mrs. Hugh Query 1961 

*Mrs. J. N. Summerell 1961 

*Mrs. T. L. Wilson 1962 

*Mrs. E. L. Patterson 1962 

*Miss Georgia Copeland 1963 

*Mrs. T. J. Abernathy 1963 

*Mrs. John A. Wilkins 1964 

*Miss Ola Margaret Moton 1964 

*Mrs. R. O. Crawford 1965 

*Mrs. Fred Spurrier 1965 

Mrs. James F. Ormand 1966 

*Mrs. A. L. Sudduth 1966 

*Mrs. Ralph H. Falls 1967 

*Mrs. Fred M. Moss 1967 

*Mrs. Mary R. Carpenter 1967 

*Mrs. I. W Spake 1968 

*Mrs. Dane S. Rhyne 1968 

*Mrs. Ed Adams 1969 

*Mrs. O. Douglas Boyce 1969 

*Mrs. J. Sid Winget 1969 

*Mrs. James L. Taylor 1970 

*Mrs. Walter Kluttz 1970 


*Mrs. Charles Thompson 1971 

*Mrs. C. C. Kimbrell 1971 

*Mrs. D. R. LaFar Jr. 1971 

*Mrs. W. L. Wetzell Jr. 1972 

Mrs. W. H. Jarman 1972 

*Mrs. J. L. Hart 1973 

Mrs. George Miller 1973 

*Mrs. J. L. Barnett 1974 

Mrs. H. S. Mackie 1974 

*Mrs. W. J. Carroll 1975 

*Mrs. Jerry Shive 1975 

*Mrs. Leonora Taylor 1975 

*Mrs. W. B. Garrison 1976 

*Mrs. Graydon Home 1976 

*Mrs. Ralph Robinson Sr. 1976 

Mrs. Benjamin Drake 1977 

*Mrs. Caldwell Ragan 1977 

*Mrs. George Ragan 1977 

*Mrs. Margaret Beam 1978 

*Mrs. Amos C. Johnstone 1978 

Mrs. John C. Peden 1978 

*Mrs. F. Irvin Hull 1979 

*Mrs. D. R Ragan 1979 

*Mrs. T. Craig Watson 1979 

*Mrs. Ralph Kendrick 1980 

*Mrs. Minor R. Adams 1980 

*Mrs. Sam M. Stewart 1980 

*Miss Justus Cathey 1981 

*Mrs. W. R. Sparrow 1981 

*Mrs. JeffMcArver 1981 

*Miss Jennie Craig Watson 1989 

*Miss Mary John Howe 1989 

Mrs. L. Neale Patrick 1990 

*Mrs. Glendall King 1990 

appendix 213 

Honorary Life Memberships (continued) 

*Mrs. James Boyce Garland 
Mrs. M. T. Cameron 
Mrs. Henry Cabaniss 
Mrs. D. Pat Craig 
Mrs. William H. Keith 
*Mrs. William C. Ratchford 
*Mrs. George M. Wood 
Mrs. Banks E. Bolin 
Mrs. W J. McConnaughey 
*Mrs. John D. McLean 
*Mrs. Blake Breitenhirt 
Mrs. Philip R. Williams 
Mrs. W Danford Wilson 
Mrs. Robert A. Blake 
Miss Jean Marie Torrence 
*Mrs. Branson E. Zeigler 
Mrs. Tom D. Efird 
Mrs. G. Edward Lewis 
Mrs. David H. Simpson 
Mrs. W B. Abernethy 
Mrs. M. Lance Brenner 
Mrs. Robert P. Barringer 
Mrs. Tom Cory 
Mrs. William H. Kelly 
Mrs. Harry W. Kiser 
Mrs. Roy Kelly 
Mrs. Ned Marvin 
Miss Ruth Rice 
Mrs. W. W. Dickson 
Mrs. James McKenzie 
Mrs. Franklin Molen 
Mrs. Roy P. Warren 
Mrs. Latane H. Ware 

























First Presbyterian Church War Veterans 

This list of veterans reflects those who were members of First Presbyte- 
rian Church at the time of their service to our country. The Committee 
of History and Archives regrets any omissions or errors. 

Robert S. Abernathy 
T. J. Abernathy 
Thomas J. Abernathy Jr. 
William E. Abernathy 
Charles W. Adams 
David S. Adams 
Lacy E. Adams 
Robert L. Adams Jr. 
Simeon Huey Adams 
Arthur A. Armstrong Jr. 
J. Raleigh Armstrong 
James C. Axon 
William D. Belton 
William D. Belton Jr. 
Wylie W Bindeman Jr. 
Charles K. Boren 
Frank Boyd 
Isabel M. Bradford 
C. D. Bradley 
Chileon Bradley 
Harry Bradley 
William Bradley 
John E. Brison Jr. 
Thomas M. Brockman Jr. 
Clifford T. Bull 
J. Ralph Bull Jr. 
Harold A. Bustle 
Walter J. Carroll 
Audrey Clemmer 

Dr. R. S. Clinton 
Harry Cobb 
Paul D. Combs 
Edwin Costner 
George Robert Currence 
John L. Currence 
Robert Brandon Currence 
Leonard Curry 
William M. Davidson 
Donald H. Davis 
Brice T. Dickson Jr. 
Tommie F. Dickson 
Walter W Dickson 
A. Wilson Dunn Jr. 
Paul L. Erlewein 
George Worth Falls 
John Rankin Falls 
Rebecca Falls 
J. Hay Fant 
Alfred Ferguson 
Alvin L. Ferguson 
Charles M. Ferguson Jr. 
John Anderson Ferguson 
Mervyn L. Filipponi 
James H. Findlay 
William H. Ford 
A. Kenneth Froneberger 
Warren Y. Gardner Jr. 
James Boyce Garland 



First Presbyterian Church 

Peter Woods Garland Jr. 
David E. Gillespie 
John David Glenn 
Robert Ray Glenn 
Robert A. Grier 
Roger M. Grier 
Thomas G. Grier 
V. G. Grier 
Charles L. Grigg 
William G. Grigg 
Wiley (Ted) Harrison 
Charles B. Hawkins 
William Lewis Hawkins 
James H. Henderlite Jr. 
Richard H. Henderson 
James W Holland 
Ruth M. Hood 
William B. Hood 
Dan Charlton Howe 
James Lamar Howe 
Wayne Howe 
Cooper A. HufFstetler 
Lawrence N. Huffstetler 
Clyde Humphrey 
James L. Humphrey 
Dr. W B. Hunter 
J. A. Hunter Jr. 
James Robert Hunter 
John Hunter 
Herbert C. Jackson 
John Alfred Jackson 
Richard R. Jarman 
Manfred Johnston 
A. C. Jones Jr. 

War Veterans (continued) 

David Andrew Jones 
James Latimer Jones 
Laurence G. Jones 
Robert Y. Kelly 
Roy W.Kelly 
Alfred Kendrick 
J. Ralph Kendrick Jr. 
Martha L. Kendrick 
Curtis C. Kimbrell Jr. 
W. Duke Kimbrell 
Paul P. Kincaid Jr. 
Robert Kincaid 
S. A. Kindley 
Allen G.King Jr. 
W D. Lawson Jr. 
W D. Lawson III 
T. E. Leavitt 
Joseph S. Leeper 
Ned Leeper 
H. Price Lineberger Jr. 
John Frank Loftin 
Samuel D. Love 
William T.Love Jr. 
Harold E. Martin 
John C. Mason III 
Eugene Mason 
Eugene R. Matthews 
J. Houston Matthews Jr. 
J. Houston Matthews III 
Donald McCarter 
Edward T. McConnell 
Samuel McKay Jr. 
James Frank McKee 
William F. McKee 


Robert E. McLean Jr. 

James E. McNair Jr. 

David A. McQueen 

Joseph Melton 

Spencer Michael 

Dossie K. Miller 

Jasper Miller Jr. 

Mary W. Miller 

Gene H. Minges 

W. T. Mingesjr. 

J. Stoney Moore 

Steve Morris 

Teresa Morris 

J. Holland Morrow 

Shannon W. Murphy Jr. 

Will Nolen 

Steve Owens 

Stanley Pack 

Edward M. Parrott 

L. Neale Patrick Jr. 

Ralph G. Patrick Jr. 

William Henry Patrick Jr. 

William M. Patrick 

Arthur W. Patsch 

John C. Peden 

Kell Pettus 

Britton Pressley Jr. 

Willis Price 

Samuel Putnam 

D. P. Ragan Jr. 

Daniel C. Ragan 

Chester Rankin 

Henry M. Rankin 

James Thomas Rankin 

John O. Rankin Jr. 

John O. Rankin III 

Joseph T. Rankin 

Robert Wray Rankin 

Samuel A. Rankin 

W T. Rankin 

Robert E. Ratchford 

Thomas A. Ratchford 

Dr. Ralph Ray 

Dane Samuel Rhyne Jr. 

Fred Rhyne 

Julius R. Rhyne 

Malcolm S. Rhyne 

Otto Rhyne 

Fred D. Riddle 

Clarence E. Roberts Jr. 

WilliamS. Roberts Jr. 

Amos Quentin Robinson 

Charles Mebane Robinson 

Charles Mebane Robinson Jr. 

Elbridge C. Robinson 

J. Lee Robinson 

Loyd Robinson 

S. A. Robinson Jr. 

Theodore L. Shelton 

Daniel R. Shields Jr. 

Lowell A. Shive 

Verne E. Shive 

William A. Sifford 

Fred L. Smyre Jr. 

Fred L. (Rick) Smyre III 

L. Lewis Sowell 

Arthur M. Spencer Jr. 

Fred W Spurrier Jr. 



First Presbyterian Church 

Powell H. Spurrier 
Blake Boyd (Billy) Starnes 
John Franklin Starnes 
Thomas A. Stewart 
Roger A. Stowe 
Samuel O. Strange 
Alvin L. Sudduth Jr. 
William T. Talley 
Robah S. Tate 
J. Caswell Taylor 
James L. Taylor 
Hunter Elmore Thomas 
Richard Earle Thomas 
Thomas F. Thompson 
J. W. Timberlake Jr. 
R. L. Todd 
Laura May Tomlin 
William H. Tomlin 
Charlton K. Torrence Sr. 
Charlton K. Torrence Jr. 
Clarence E. Underwood 
Albert Van Sleen 

War Veterans (continued) 

Henry M. Van Sleen Jr. 
Robert Van Sleen 
Frank L. Virgin 
Archie Wakefield Jr. 
Ernest R. Warren 
Roy Warren 
William Y.Warren Jr. 
Charles A. Wetzell 
Lee M. Wetzell 
Edith K. Whisnant 
Hugh Edward White 
Joseph Raymond Whitesides 
Joseph Roy Whitesides 
John A. Wilkins Jr. 
Wade Hampton Williford 
Clyde A. Wilson 
Thomas Lee Wilson 
William Danford Wilson 
Earle Caldwell Workman 
Thomas Reese Workman 
Charles E. Zeigler 


Edgar F. Clemmer 
F. Kelly Clemmer 
Henry A. Clemmer 
P. D. Clemmer 
William B. Clemmer 

Robert Craig 
William Humphrey Jr. 
William H. Jarman 
Leland Morris 
James Sisk 


Norman P. Morrow Jr. 


In Memoriam 


Charles W. Adams 
Will Nolen 


Alfred Kendrick 
John Frank Loftin 
Harold Martin 
Eugene Matthews 
John O. Rankin III 
Thomas A. Ratchford 
Fred W. Spurrier Jr. 
Frank Starnes 

Marketing Committee for A Christian Witness: 
History of the First Presbyterian Church 

Joan H. Barringer 
Emily S. Bowyer 
Tyler S. Bullock 
Maribeth L. Jenkins 
Kyle Key 
Lisbet Nielsen 
Christine C. Pierce 
Judith A. Planer, chair 
Tracy R. Roberts 
Knox Winget 


Session Roster 200$ 

Sarah Abernethy 
Martha Beal 
Marian Call 
Hu Craig 
Charles Gallman 
Amy Holman 
Annabelle Kelly 
Frank Matthews 
Gordon Quarles, clerk 
Knox Winget 

Deacon Roster 200$ 

Becky Adams 
Ben Beasley, chair 
Emmie Bowyer 
Luke Ellington 
Barbara Hammerle 
Tom Kirkham 
Janet Spencer 
Robert Spencer 
Mary Sumner 
Steven Wilson 



Note: Page numbers of illustrations 
are in italics. 

Abbenes, Arie, 177 

Abernethy, Sarah Adams, 41, 59, 120, 

123, 135, 144 
Abernethy, William B., Jr., $9, 135, 

plate 4 
Adam and Eve, 103 
Adams, Bill, 146 
Adams, Dr. Charles E., 6, 18, 19 
Adams, Dr. Robert H., 5, 20 
Adams, Dr. Simeon H., 18 
Adams, Emily, 6 
Adams, Esther, 53 
Adams, Jean Kelly, 123, 133 
Adams, Lizzie, no, 147 
Adams, M. R., 57, 62-63 
Adams, Mrs. C. E., 172 
Adams, Mrs. Ed, 25 
Adams, Mrs. M. J., 5 
Adams, Mrs. M. R., 68 
Adams, Mrs. R. L., Sr., 25 
Adams, Rebecca, 126-27, 14$ 
Adams, Robert L., Jr., 18, 25 
Adams family, 6, 22 
Adams Memorial Church, 44, no 
Afterschool Program, 164 
Airline Avenue, 9 
Akers, Elizabeth, 154 
Akers, John M., 41-42, 57, 62, 97, 

100-102, 177 
Akers, Reverend Dr. W. W., 41-42 
Akers family, 22 

Albright, Jane, 154 

Aldrich, Reverend Dr. Doug, 22, 
106, 775 

Alexander, I. N., 14 

Alexander, Leon C, 57, 62, 63, 115 

Alexander family, 6 

Allen, Susan, 161 

Allf, Anna, plate 7 

Allf, Brian, 140 

Allf, Jeanne, plate 7 

Allison, Turner, plate 6 

Amahl and the Night Visitors, 103-4 

Anderson, April, 152 

Anderson, Emma, 98 

Anderson, Reverend and Mrs. 
Vernon S., in 

Anderson, Reverend Robert Camp- 
bell, 13, 14-15, 23, 28 

Andrews, Mickie, i$6, 157 

Anthony, Katherine, 41 

Apostles' Creed banner, 18$ 

Applewhite, Reverend Herff, 139-40, 

Arkin, Alice Taylor, 18 

Armstrong, C. B., 21 

Armstrong, Elizabeth, 172-73 

Armstrong, Ginny, 154 

Armstrong family, 6 

Armstrong Memorial Presbyterian 
Church, 21, 26, 42 

associate ministers, 206 

Atkins, Garland, 103 

Atlanta and Charlotte Airline 
Railroad, 10 


Band of Hope, no 

baptisms, 33, 70, iyp 

Barium Springs Orphanage, 108 

Barnett, Helen Ragan, 151 

Barnett, Joe L., 62, 151 

Barnett family, 22 

Barringer, Dr. Robert P., 127 

Barringer, Joan, 123 

Beacon newsletter, 43 

Beal, Giles, Jr., 58 

Beal, Helen, ij2 

Beal, J. B., 11 

Beal, Martha Barnett, 6, 18, $8, 144 

Beam, Margaret Rankin, 63, 98, 102 

Beasley, Benjamin, 14$ 

Belgian Congo visit by Dr. Moffett, 

73-78, 75, 77 
Belk, Georgia, plate 7 
Belk, Timothy, 167, 173-74, T 74 
Bell, A. Gilbert, 63 
Bell, Annie, 5 
Bell, Margaret, 5 
Bell, R. H., 5 
Bell, Sonora, 5 

benevolences. See mission activities 
Bennett, Cindy, 152 
Benson, Harriet, i$2 
Bercaw, Emma Binns, 44 
Berryman, Skip, 88 
Black, Elizabeth, plate 7 
Blair, Bonnie, 56, 122 
Blair, James, 144 
Blake, Dr. Bob, 112, 112-13 
Blended Blessings (by daughter of 

Rev. Smith), 12 
Bone, Maddie, plate 7 
Bonsac, Fay Spencer, 98 
Book of Church Order, 15, 143 
Bowen, Ellen Fain, 155—56 
Boyce, Douglas, 41 
Boyce, Margaret, 41 
Boyce, S. N., 9 
Boyce, Stella Holland, 9 

Boy Scout activities 

building at Marietta Street, 21, 28 
seventy-fifth anniversary celebra- 
tion, 149 
Silver Beaver Award, 204 
Troop n, 27-28, 149-51, ISO, 
plate 6 

Bradley, B. G., 5, 6, 19 

Bradley, Dorcas, 5 

Bradley, Eliza, 5 

Bradley, Joseph, 9 

Bradley, William, 5 

Bradley family, 6 

Bradshaw, Beverly, 14s, plate 7 

Breitenhirt, Thelma, 136 

Brendle, Janet, 152 

Brenner, Cookie, 123 

Bridgeman, John, 144 

Bright, Reverend Ralph, 88, 92 

Brison, Patsy, 154 

Brittain, Steve, 144 

Bron, Reverend Jerry, 102 

Brown, Marcia, 116 

Brown, Reverend and Mrs. George, 

74, no 
Brown, Reverend J. N., 53, 53 
Brown, Thomas, 14$ 
Brown, Virginia, 114-15, 115 
Browning, Ethan, plate 6 
Broyhill, James, ^5 
Bryant, Ann, 152 
Bryant, Anna, plate 7 
Bryant, Jordan, plate 7 
Bryant, Morgan, plate 7 
Buckles, Mamie, plate 7 
Buckles, Robert, 145 

1921, 29 

1926, 29 

I93i> 35 

1934, 35 

1995, 129 

1996, 135 

222 INDEX 

Building and Grounds Committee, 

4- 72 

Building and Subscription Commit- 
tee of 1895, 18-19 

building projects 

fundraising, 18-21, 57-60, 69 
Garrison Boulevard church, 

55-70, 6$ 
Long Street Church, 9 
manse, 11— 12 
Marietta Street church, 11, 17-20 

Bullock, Bailey, i$6, plate 7 

Bullock, Dale, 90 

Bullock, Mary Brown, no 

Bullock, Tyler Stuart, 89, 90, plate 7 

Burch, Melanie, iyi 

Burleson, Betsy, 128 

Burr, Dr. David H., 104 

Burrell, Betty, 171 

Burrell, Charlie, iyi 

Burwell, Reverend Dr. H. W., 24 

Butler, Baird, 123 

Butler, Pratt, 162 

C. C. Kimbrell Boy Scout Service 

Center, 149-51, 150 
Cabaniss, Dorothy, 105 
Cabaniss, Henry, 105 
Caddell, Reverend Stephen, 88 
Caldwell, Cordelia Morrow, 95 
Caldwell, R. E., 95 
Call, James B., 106, 115 
Call, Marion, 144 
A Call to Faith (Rachel Henderlite), 

Campbell, Dr. Ernest, 104 
Campbell, Wanda, iyi 
Camp Cherokee, 40 
Camp Gallant, #, 108 
Camp Golden Valley, 152 
Camp Kiwanis, 152 
Camp Rotary, 151—52 
carillon. See Memorial Carillon 

Carmichael, Don, 123 

Carrie E. and Lena V. Glenn Foun- 
dation, 104 

Carruthers, Reverend Pete, 88, 93, 
99-100, 100, 101, 163 

Carson, Dr. Mary Faith, 129 

Carter, Becky, 123 

Carter, Bynum, 63, 82, 102, 106, 115 

Carter, Shelly, 144 

Casavant Freres Limited organ, 
68-69, 71-72, 168, 175 

Cashatt, James E., 63 

Cathey, Justus, 102 

Cathey, Louise, 113 

centennial celebration, 104—5, 116— 17 

Center, C. E. "Doc," 105 

Chanticleer ensemble, 174 

Charlotte Observer, 2, 5 

Cherry, Blair, 51 

Cherry, Gail, 41 

Cherry, Irene, 41, 14J 

Cheshire, Reverend Linwood, 44 

Chester and Lenoir Narrow Gauge 
Railroad, 10, n 

children's activities 

Afterschool Program, 164 
Boy Scout activities, 21, 27—28, 

I49-5I, 150, PLATE 6 

Children's Church/A Time for 

Young Disciples, 100, 101, 157 
Children's Ministry for Infants 

through Fifth Graders, 157-58 
Children's Missionary Society, 

Children's Music Ministries, 

choirs, 41, 168, 169, 178, plate 16 
Fall festival, 157 
family activities, 94 
Frank Davis Children's Fund, 102 
Girl Scout activities, 60, 151—54, 

152, I54, PLATE 7 

Mothers' Morning Out, 157 



children's activities (continued) 

sports teams, i$j, i$8 

time capsule, 158 

See also Christian education; 
youth ministry 
Children s Friend newspaper, 4 
"The Children's Missionary" 

pamphlet, 4 
Chimes newsletter, 46 
choirs. See music programs 
Choquet, Will, 178, plate 6 
Christian Action Committee, 127 
Christian education, 155—65, i$p, 162, 

administration, 159 

anonymous donors, 18 

Communicants Classes, 88, pj, 1/8 

confirmation class, ij$ 

as congregational priority, 94 

Connections Sunday school class, 

I59> I ^ 1 
Covenant Life Curriculum, 36 

directors, 43-44, 52.-53, 119, 155, 

162-63, 207 
Dr. Leith's lectures, 129 
under Dr. Stoker, 143-45 
under Dr. Stuart, 105 
Eunice Warren Bible Class, 114 
"Experiencing God" class, 145 
Faith and Fiction book group, 128, 

Henderlite Bible Class, 36, 125, 

142, 159, 160 
integration issues, 155 
Koinonia, 159 

Ladies' Bible Class, 159, 161 
Presbyterian Weekday School, 116, 

155-57, I$6, I57, PLATE 15 

sacraments class, 158 
Seekers Bible Class, up, 159 
Stuff 'n' Study program, 105, 168 
Sunday school, 145, 157-58 
Sunday school building, 27 

Sunday school superintendent, 155 

Thursday breakfast and Bible 
study, 162-63, 165 

Vacation Bible School, $4, i$6, 157, 

women in leadership roles, 108 
Christian Observer newspaper, 5 
Church World Service, 113 
civil rights movement, 76, 81-85, 

Clark, Katie, 44-45, 171, 178 
clerks of the Session, 205 
Cleveland, Grover, 6 
Cline, David, 106, 123 
Cobb, Harry S., 62-63, io 5 
Cockfield, Debbi, plate 7 
Cole, Mary Ann, 154 
Collier, Jack, plate 6 
Collier, James, plate 6 
Collis, Emily, plate 7 
Collis, Hailey, plate 7 
columbarium, 88, 123, plate 12 
Committee of Forty-four, 34 
Committee of History and Archives, 

1-2, 120 
communion elements, 141 
Community Kindergarten, 113 
Confederate army service, 18-19 
Congolese Presbyterian Church, 

73-74^ 77-78 
Congregational Care Ministry, 144 
Connections Sunday school class, 

159, 161 
Cooperative Christian Ministry, 116 
Copeland, Georgia, # 
Corbett, Reverend W B., 7, 9 
cornerstone time capsule of 1895, 2 

church role in 1895, 5-6 

contents, 1—6 

discovery, 1-4, 5, 72, 176 

elders and deacons, 6 

Ladies Missionary Society, 6 
Costner, Frank A., 6, 18, 20 

224 index 

Costner family, 6 

Courter, John, 177 

Covenant Life Curriculum, 36 

Covenant Presbyterian Church, 57, 

Covenant Village project, 88, 89, 
94-99, 96, 99 

Benevolent Fund, 95, 98 

ecumenical nature, 95 

fundraising, 95, 97-98 
Crab Shrimp Casserole recipe, 118 
Craig, J. H., 5 
Craig, Mary, 5 
Craig, Mrs. Thomas L., 28 
Craig, Thomas L., 28 
Craig, William Lewis, 137—38 
Craig family, 6, 22 
Crisis Assistance Ministry for 

Christians and Jews in Greater 

Gastonia, Inc., 44, 45, 116, 126-27, 

Crisp, Douglas, 106 
Crossnore School, 108 
Culp, Ann, 154 
Culp, Betsy, 152 
Cunningham, Reverend Dr. John 

Rood, 51 
Current, A. J., plate 6 
Current, Elizabeth, 122, 146 
Current, Jack and Henry, 179 
Current, William A., 177 
Curry, J. E., 6, 14, 20 

Dallas Park chapel, 21 
Daniel, Charles F., 69-70 
daughter churches, 21 
Davidson College, 34, 125 
Davis, Frank W, 102 
Davis, John, 75-76 
Davis, Mark, 137, 142 
Dawsey, Dr. Ben, 79 
of 1895, 6 

of 1898, 20 

of 2004, 145 

of 2005, 220 

definition, 79 
Deason, Elaine, iyo, 179—80 
DeBevoise, Emalee, 117, 124 
DeBevoise, Reverend Dr. Don T, 128 
DeBevoise, Reverend Dr. John T., 
121-34, I22 

background, 124 

call to First Presbyterian, 124—25 

community involvement, 125—29, 

Faith and Fiction book group, 128, 

Gaston County pastoral counsel- 
ing center, 128—29 

Habitat for Humanity work, 130 

hymnal decisions, 180 

Joy Campaign, 129-30, 184-85 

Kirkin' of the Tartans service, 
130-32, 131-32 

leadership style, 129-30 

partner church in Guatemala, 129 

prayer luncheon for prisoners, 126 

prayer of dedication, 136 

resignation, 133—34 

sabbatical, 129 

Super Cupboard program, 126-27 

views on social issues, 128 

youth ministry, 125-26 
de la Vega, Dr. Raul, 177 
de la Vega, Jo Anne, iyi, 177, 178 
de la Vega, Sarah, 178 
Dendy, S. Wilkes, 28 
Dickson, Andrew, 1/8 
Dickson, Brice T, 62, 69, 100 
Dickson, Connie, 88 
Dickson, David, 160 
Dickson, Dr. W W "Dub," 79, 94, 

122, 144 
Dickson, Michael, 160 
Dickson, Ralph, III, 88 



Dickson, Ralph, Sr., 57, 62-63, 68, 81 

Dickson, Tern, 154 

Dickson family, 6, 22 

Dinner Chimes, 117 

Director of Children's Music Minis- 
tries, 178-79 

directors of Christian education, 
43-44, 52-53, 119, 155, 162-63, 207 

directors of music, 167-70, 178-79, 

Dixon, Jean Groves, 151—52 

Dixon, Linda, 105 

Dole, Preston, plate 6 

Downey, Ellen, 1/0 

Dozier, Sally, 41 

Drake, Louise, 113 

drama programs, 100, 103—4, plate 5 

Dunford, Phil, no 

Dunn, Wilson, 123 

Dunn family, 22 

Durham, John O., 45 

Durham, Mrs. John O., 45 

Durham, Reverend and Mrs. C. C, 
74, in 

Eaker, Carolyn, 154 

Easter services, 162, plate 11— 12 

Ebner, Gail, 144 

Efird, Anne, 117, 133 

Efird, Tim, 146 

Efird, Tom, 102, 133, 141-42, 142 

Efird family, 22 

Eichelberger, Reverend Hugh, 123 

Eijsbouts Foundry, 177 

elders of 1895, 6 

Ellis, Kay, 41 

Ellis, Lulawill, 42-43 

Ellis, Marion, 2 

Ellis, Reverend Irving M. "Deac," 
39-46, 40 
appointment to senior minister, 39 
assistant minister position, 40-41 
background, 39-40 

Christian education, 43—44, 119 

church controversy, 46 

death, 46 

Doctor of Divinity degree, 46 

First Church centennial celebra- 
tion, 104 

Girl Scout activities, 151—52 

1948 message, 187-88 

mission work, 45 

musical skills and activities, 39—44 

Pontiac gift, 46 

resignation, 46 

sermon length, 41—42 

women in leadership roles, 108 

youth ministry, 40-41, 43 
Elmore, Paulette, 157 
endowments. See memorials and 

Etheridge, Jean, 41 
Eunice Warren Bible Class, 114 
Evans, Gary, plate 4 
Eyler, Louise, 154 

Faine, John, plate 6 

Faith and Fiction book group, 128, 

Falls, J. R., 9 
Falls, John R., 75? 
Falls, Ralph, Jr., 41 
Falls, Ralph PL, 55, 57, 62 
Falls, Rebecca, 151 
Falls, Tommye, 53—54 
Falls family, 22 
Falls House Hotel, 9 
Fanning, Anna, 14$ 
Farrot, Don, 51 
Faust, Kay, 41 
Fayssoux, J. H., 5, 11, 17 
Fayssoux, Jemima, 5 
Ferguson, Ben, 123 
Feuer, Debbie, 154 
Fielding, Craig, 94 
Fink, Dwayne and Sarah, 103 



First United Methodist Church, 57 

Fisch, Clara, in 

Fisher, Dr. Ellis, 112, 140 

Fisher, Meg, 117 

Fitzmaurice, Kate, iy8 

Floyd, Chriscynethia, 174 

Fogartie, Reverend Jim, 87 

Ford, Ruby Neal, 41 

Forrest, Nina, 154 

Forrest, Rose, 117, 154 

Forrest, Terry, 88 

Foster, Gwen, plate 7 

founding in 1882, 5 

Frank Davis Children's Fund, 102 

Franklin, Jimmy, 150 

Fulton, Gary, 122 

Fulton, Reverend Dr. C. Darby, 

73-78, 7J 
future directions, 183-86 

G. W. Ragan and Company store, 

Gallant, Harry E., 21 
Gallant, James, 14 
Gallant family, 6 
Gallman, Charles, 144 
Gamp, Lewis "Brud," 59—60 
Gardner, Sarah, 151 
Garland, James B. "Jick," 130, 149 
Garland, Jo, no 
Garland, Kathleen Boyce, 149 
Garland, Peter W., 149 
Garland family, 22 
Garrett, Jay, 132 
Garrison, Mrs. W. B., 63 
Garrison, W. B., 57, 62, 68, 80 
Garrison Boulevard church, yi, 
plate 1 

architect Harold Wagoner, 57, 
61-64, 67-71 

banners, 141, 185 

baptismal font, 70 

building committees, 57, 62 

Casavant Freres Limited organ, 

68-69, 71-72, 168, 175 
chapel, 136 

columbarium, 88, 123, plate 12 
communion elements, 141 
construction, 55-70, 6$, 68 
controversy of move, 56 
cornerstone of 1895, 1-4, 3, 72, 

cornerstone of 1962, 72, 104-5 
cost of construction, 69 
dedication in 1966, 84 
design decisions, 60—64, 67—70 
Easter celebrations, plate ii— 12 
fundraising, 57-60, 69, 81, 105, 

Heritage Fund, 105, 106 
Heritage Room, 12, 18, 21, 30, 69, 

no, plate 3 
land purchase in 1955, 56 
Memorial Carillon, 4, 18, 66, 72, 

81, 175-78, 176 
offices, 72, 142 
opening, 70-72 
renovations, 142, 177 
sanctuary cross, 67 
stained glass window, plate ii 
steeple, 80 
Garrison family, 22 
Garrison General Hospital, 34 
Gaston County Girl Scouts, 151 
Gastonia, North Carolina 

annexation of Garrison Boulevard 

property, 64 
business district, circa 1920, 28 
civil rights movement, 81—85, 

Community Kindergarten, 113 
Cooperative Christian Ministry, 

county government, 10 
downtown churches, n, 81 
elected officials, n, 17 

INDEX 227 

Gastonia, North Carolina (contin- 

1895 "elite," 14 

Human Relations Committee, 

population, 2, 9-10 

railroad, 10 

strike of 1929, 82 

textile industry, 4, 10-11, 17, 
19-20, 26 
Gastonia Academy, 9 
"Gastonia Change," 177 
Gastonia Gazette, 2, 5, 6, 30—34, 36 
Gastonia Women's Betterment 

Association, 108 
General Assembly of the Presbyterian 

Church (PCUS), 105 
Gettys, Joe, 88 
Gibbons, Anderson, plate 6 
Gibbs, Wynn, 88 
Giles, Jimmy, 41 
Giles, Larry, 41 
Giles, Mack, 41 
Gillespie, Reverend Dr. George R., 

Gillespie, Reverend Mr. E. E., 24 
Gilreath, Reverend Ron, 135 
Girl Scout activities, 60, 151—54, 
plate 7 

Brownies, 1963, 152 

camps, 151-52 

Marguerite Ring Torrence Service 
Center, 152 

Troop 74, 1953, 154 
Glenn, Betty Jean, 41 
Glenn, Dr. Enos Franklin, 6, 20, 21 
Glenn family, 6 
Goff, Addy, plate 7 
Gordon, Robert and Lucille, 43, 43, 

Gray, Bobby, 41 
Gray, George, 19-20 
Gray, George, Sr., 45 

Gray, Mrs. George, Sr., 45 

Gray family, 6 

Great Depression era, 34-35 

Grissom, Charlie, 142, iyi 

Groves Fund, 102 

Gunn, Reverend George, 123 

Gunter, Dan, 81 

Habitat for Humanity, 130, 146, 159 
Hall, Alex, 142 
Hall, Ginny, 117 
Hall, Reverend Dr. Warner, 80 
Hammerle, Barbara, 14$ 
Hamner, Betty, 152 
Hamner, Katherine, 154 
Harmon, Carroll, 102, 135 
Harper, R. T., 6, 20 
Harris, Carlisle, plate 7 
Harris, Glen, 88 
Harris, Lou Anne, 154, plate 7 
Hauer, Thomas, plate 6 
Heaven's Gate Cult, 139-40 
Hebblethwaite, John, 104, 168, 177 
Henderlite, Dr. Rachel, 36 
Henderlite, Nelle, 25, 30 
Henderlite, Reverend Dr. James 
Henry, 15, 23-37, 2 4 

annual reports of 1919, 26—27 

background, 25 

baptisms with water from the 
Jordan River, 33 

Boy Scout Troop 11, 27-28 

cars, 23 

children, 36-37 

civic activities, 25, 34 

Doctor of Divinity degree, 34 

Great Depression era, 34—35 

membership growth, 25—26 

pension, 36 

retirement and death, 36 

sabbatical trip, 29—34 

salary, 26-27, 29, 35 

travelogue, 30—34 



twenty-fifth anniversary celebra- 
tion, 35-36 

Union Theological Seminary 
scholarship endowment, 36 

Vacation Bible School, 158-59 

women in leadership roles, 108 
Henderlite, Reverend Dr. Langdon, 

74, in 
Henderlite Bible Class, 36, 125, 142, 

159, 160 
Hendrix, Shirley, 154 
Henry, George, Jr., 80-81, 131 
Henry, James, 102, 104 
Henry, Mrs. George, Jr., 131 
Henry family, 22 
Heritage Fund, 105, 106, 130 
Heritage Room, 18, plate 3 

Dr. Henderlite's reports from 
abroad, 30 

Marietta Street items, 12, 21 

Memorials Book, 69 

Miss Lizzie Adams plaque, 110, 

Hickson, Gloria, 132 

Hill, Roger, iji 

Hill, Taylor, i 7 8 

Hileman, Jean, 128 

historical timeline, 193-203 

histories of First Presbyterian Church 

by Charles F. Daniel in 1961, 

by Hugh Query in 1948, 187-88 

by Rev. Robert Smith in 1895, 4-5 
Hobson, Hal, 169 

Hobson, Reverend J. Kemp, 73-74 
Hodges, Garrison, plate 7 
Hodges, Parker, plate 7 
Holland, J. B., 16 
Holland, James Quinn, 5, 6, 9, ip, 

21, 149 
Holland, Julia, 5 
Holland, Mrs. J. Q., 9 
Holland, Stella, 9, 172 

Holland family, 6 

Holman, Amy, 158 

honorary life memberships of 

women's organizations, 211-14 
Hooker, Will, 145 
Hooks, Judy, 154 
Hopital Lumiere, 112— 13 
Hovis, Ashley, ij8 
Hovis, Brittany, 178 
Howe, Jayne, iyi 
Howe, Mary John, 151 
Howe, Pressley, plate 7 
Howe, Wayne, 102 
Howren, Susan and John, 103 
Hubbard, Helen, 44 
Hudgins, Jeff, iyi 
Hudson, Mrs. J. R., yj 
Huffman, Debbie and Hughes, 168 
Hunter, Barbara, 133 
Hunter, Nancy, 113 
Hunter, J. A., 6, 20 
Hunter family, 6 
Hurricane Hugo, 121 

IHS banner, 141 

Intentional Christian Experience 

(ICE), 89, 100, 163 
Interfaith Hospitality Network, 145, 

159, 161 

Jackson, Janet, 169, 170 

Jackson, John Frank, 21, 24, 44 

Jackson, Judy, 41 

Jackson, "Miss Bess" P., 43, 43, 55 

Jackson family, 6 

Jarman, Bill, i$o 

Jarman, Dick, i$o 

Jarman, Kerry, 102 

Jesus of Nazareth, 104 

Johnson, Noel, 130, 131, 140, 142, 

Johnston family, 6 
Johnston, R. L., 5, 11 



Johnston, Reverend R. Manfred, IV, 


Jones, Arthur C, 24 

Jones, Barbara, 117 

Jones, Brandon, plate 6 

Jones, Reverend Dr. James A., 84 

Jones, James H., 37 

Jones, Natalie, plate 7 

Jones, Reverend Frank, 37 

Jones, Virginia Henderlite, 37 

Jones family, 22 

Joy in the Morning service, 142—43, 

143 > l8 4 
Julian, Mrs. W. A., 45 

Julian, W. A., 45 

Keir, Louise Love, 19, 60 

Keith, Mary Katherine, 147 

Keith, William H., 105, 106, 122, 130, 
133, 140 

Keith family, 22 

Kelly, Annabelle, 117, 144, i$2 

Kelly, Dr. Bill, 112, 167 

Kelly, Susan, /J2 

Kemp, Helen Hubbard, 169 

Kendrick, Ralph, Jr., 56 

Kendrick, Ralph, Sr., 56 

Kendrick Drive. See Garrison Boule- 
vard church 

Kennedy, James Holland, 14, 21, 45 

Kennedy, John R, assassination, 83 

Kennedy, Mrs. James H., 45 

Kennedy, Reverend J. J., 7, 7 

Kennedy family, 6 

Kennington, Grady, 144, 159, 161, 

Kersher, Paul, 105 

Ketchum, Inc., 57—58 

"Keyboards and Carols," 170 

Keyzer, Helene, in 

Kimball pipe organ, 28 

Kimbirl, Reverend John, 88 

Kimbrell, C. C., 149-51 

Kimbrell, Duke, 80, 97, 106, 115, 123, 

i49> 177 
Kimbrell family, 22 

Kimray, Jonathan, ij8 

Kincaid, Mrs. Paul, 63 

Kincaid, Paul P., 63 

King, Betsy, 159 

King, David, 144 

King, Lila, 116 

King, Martin Luther, Jr., 81, 91 

King, Scotty, 123 

Kings Mountain Presbyterial, 108 

Kirkham, Thomas, 14$ 

Kirkin' of the Tartans service, 

130-32, 131— 32, plate 10 

Kiser, Betty, p6 

Kluttz, Jo Ann, 41 

Knight, Matthew, plate 6 

Knoxville World's Fair, 103 

Koinonia, 159 

Kreutzer, Hilda, 44, 4$ 

Kunkle, Carl, 145 

Lackey, Dr. Don, 79 

Lacy, Dr. Ben, 88 

Lacy, Reverend Dr. J. H., 24 

Ladies' Aid Society, 107, 209 

Ladies' Bible Class, 159, 161 

Ladies' Home and Foreign Mission 

Society, 107, 109-10, 209 
Ladies' Missionary Society, 6, 107, 

LaFar, D. R., Jr., 55, 57, 62, 64, 68 
LaFar, D. S., 62, 68 
LaFar, Dan, Jr., 87, 122, 123-24, 133, 

LaFar, David, 95 
LaFar, Dottie, iyi 
LaFar, Marshall, 150 
LaFar family, 22 

Lambert, Reverend Dr. Clem, 92 
Landale, Susan, 174 
Lanz, Christine, iy8 



Lattimore, Mrs. Louie M., 45, 55 

Lawson, Margaret, 154 

Lawson, W. D., Ill, 123 

Covenant Village, 94, 95, p6, 97 
Garrison Boulevard church, 57, 

60-63, 68, 69 
Memorial carillon, 177 

lay leadership, 17-22 
anonymous donors, 18 
building of the Marietta Street 

church, 17-20 
deacons of 1895, 6 
deacons of 1898, 20 
during Dr. Stuart's ministry, 105 
elders of 1895, 6 
establishment of local mission 

churches, 44 
impression on Dr. Stuart, 90 
installation of officers, 181 
Leadership Training School, 109 
pastor's aides, 53—54 
Sunday school superintendent, 155 
women, 114-15, 117, 119-20 
See also Session; women's activities 

Layton, Mary, 145 

Leadership Training School, 109 

Leeper, Sylvia, 123, 133 

Leissner, Janet, iji 

Leith, Dr. John, 123, 125, 129 

Lemmon, John, 145 

Leviathan ship, 30, 34 

Leviner, R. L., 68 

Lewis, Leslie, 45, iyi 

Lewis, William H., 14 

Liberty Presbyterian Church, 51 

life memberships of women's organi- 
zations, 211— 14 

Lineberger, Allison Gordon, 130 

Lineberger, Eli N., 11, 18 

Lineberger, Laura and Robbie, 103 

Linwood Presbyterian Church, 82, 

Loftin, Bill, 44 

Loftin, Charles, III, 41 

Loftin, Charles I., 62, 68 

Loftin, Martha Enck, 44 

Loftin family, 22 

Long, Dr. Tom, 129 

Long, Linda, 154 

Long Brothers, 5 

Long Street Church, 9 

Loray Mill, 19-20 

Love, Betty, no 

Love, Bill, 88 

Love, John Franklin, 6, 11, 18, 19-20, 

20, 21 
Love, Mrs. J. F., 6 
Love, R. C. G., 6, 18, 19 
Love, Susan Rhyne, 107 
Love, Susie, 20 
Love, William A., 20 
Love family, 6 
Lybrand, G. W, n 
Lytle, Mrs. Fred S., 106, 151-52 

Mackie, H. S., 43, 119 

Mackie, Kitty, 3, 43, 105, 106, 117-20 

Mackie, Spurgeon and Margaret, 120 

Mackie family, 22 

Mackorell, David, 41 

Mackorell, T. M., 79 

Madrigal Singers, 168 

Majors, Mrs. L. C, 52 

Mando, Helen, 41 

Mann, Harry, 63 

manse, 10, n— 12, 28 

Marguerite Ring Torrence Service 

Center, 152, 153 
Marietta Street church, 8, 35 

brick sales, 12 

bronze bell, 18, 81 

construction, n, 17-20 

cornerstone of 1895, 1—6, 3, 72, iy6 

heating system, 5 

the Hut, 27, 40 

Italian carved capitals, 21 



Marietta Street church (continued) 

Junior Choir, 1946, 41 

Kimball pipe organ, 175 

manse, 10, 11— 12, 28 

memorial stained-glass windows, 

men, 1916, 26 

men, 1922, 29 

Moeller handpump organ, 174 

move to Garrison Boulevard, 56, 

music program, 44 

organ and piano purchases, 28 

property size limitations, 55 

renovations and modernization, 
28, 54-55 

staff, 43, 43-44^ 5^-53 

Sunday school building, 27 

weddings, 42, $8, 59 

women, 1916, 2j 
marketing committee for A Christian 

Witness, 219 
Martin, C. H., 5 
Martin, Jim, 127 
Marvin, Helen Rhyne, 115, 126 
Mason, John C, III, 18 
Mason, Mrs. John C, Jr., 62 
Mason, Susie, 113 
Massey, Charles, 94, 160 
Matheny, Lee Bonsac, 98 
Matthews, Elizabeth (daughter), 9, 

Matthews, Elizabeth Robinson 

(mother), 9, jj, 57, 62-63 
Matthews, Eugene, 9 
Matthews, Frank, 3, 9, 106, 115, 177 
Matthews, Gene, 102, 146 
Matthews, Houston, 9 
Matthews, J. H., 9 
Matthews, Mary Houston, 178 
Matthews family, 22 
Mau, Marcia, 168-69 
Maxon, Becky and Dave, 103 

Mayes, Marion, 116 

Mayes, Reverend Frank, 46-47, 85, 

88, 123, 123 
"May the Grace of God Go with 

You," 169 
McAlhaney, Jim, 125 
McAlpine, Reverend and Mrs. James 

A., 74, in 
McArthur, S. E., 11 
McChesney, Charles, 44 
McCormick, Reverend L. R., 7, 7 
McCully, Andrew, plate 6 
McCurry, Dan, 133 
McCurry, Kendall, 178 
McCurry, Patricia, 14$ 
McFarland, Mary, 169-70, 170, 171, 

McGlohon, Loonis, 178 
McGregor, Gill, 126 
Mcllwaine, Reverend W. E., 7, 7 

McKenzie, Dorothy, 157, plate 15 
McKenzie, Jim, 160 
McLean, Becky, 113 
McLean, Leslie, 150 
McLean, Rebecca Stowe, 98 
McLean, Suzanne, 171 
McLean family, 6, 22 
McLemore, Fannie, 113 
McSpadden, Connor, plate 6 
McSpadden, Harrison, plate 6 
Meakin, Jack, plate 6 
Meals on Wheels, 116 
Mecklenburg Presytery, 4, 9, 34 
Meek, Arlena, 171 
members, 184 

church discipline, 15—16 

congregation goal-setting activi- 
ties, 92-94, 99, 140-43 

deteriorating growth, 183 

under Dr. DeBevoise, 129 

under Dr. Henderlite, 25-26, 
26-27 29, 54 



family legacies, 17 
at 1882 formation, 5 
member assimilation classes, 92 
military service, 18—19, 46 
Presbyterian ministry, 204 
role in church management, 125 
Silver Beaver Award recipients, 

unchurching, 15 
See also lay leadership; Women of 

the Church 
Memorial Carillon, 4, 18, 66, 72, 81, 

175-78, 176 
memorials and endowments 

Crisis Assistance Ministry, 44, 4$, 

Frank Davis Children's Fund, 102 
Groves Fund, 102 
Heritage Fund, 105, 106, 130 
Presbyterian Endowment Trust, 

88, 100-103, 135, 146 
R.E. Caldwell Benevolent Fund, 

stained-glass windows, 20—21 

Susie and George W. Ragan Spiri- 
tual Enrichment Fund, 129 

Torrence Fund, 102 
Men's Bible Class, 21, 36 
Men's Missionary Society, 107 
Mercer, Lucia Groves, 151 
Miller, Dr. George, in, 112 
Miller, Judy, in, 112, 116 
Minges, Jamie, i$2 
ministers, 7, 9-16 

assistant ministers, 26 

associate ministers, 206 

call practices, 24—25 

Director of Christian Education 
position, 155 

interims, 123, 133 

new cars, 23, 80-81 

pensions, 36 

responsibilities, 15 

salaries, 26-27, 29, 35, 52 

supply ministers, 7—9 

See also names of individual 

mission activities, /// 
Brazil jeep project, 45 
Children's Missionary Society, 

Church World Service, 113 
Community Kindergarten, 113 
cornerstone envelope, 2 
Dr. DeBevoise's Joy Campaign, 

130, 184-85 
Dr. Moffett's trip to Belgian 

Congo, 73-78, 75, 77 
foreign projects, 74, 107, 110-13 
Habitat for Humanity, 130, 146, 


Intentional Christian Experience, 
89, 100, 163 

Interfaith Hospitality Network, 
145, 159, 161 

Ladies' Home and Foreign Mis- 
sion Society, 107, 109 

Ladies' Missionary Society, 6, 107 

local, 27, 44, 113, 126-27, 145-46, 
plate 14 

Men's Missionary Society, 107, 109 

reputation of First Presbyterian, 

under Reverend Ellis, 45 

Serving Our Community with 
Kindness in Springwood pro- 
gram, 127, 127 

Super Cupboard program, 126-27 

Third Street Presbyterian Church, 
9, 102, 145, plate 14 

Women of the Church activities, 

youth trips, 163 
The Missionary booklet, 4 
Mitchell, Reverend Dr. Donald, 72, 




Moffett, Margaret, 51, 68 
Moffett, Reverend Dr. H. D., 49 
Moffett, Reverend Dr. Harry M., Jr. 

49-55^ 50, 55' 61-85 

background, 49, 51—52 

Board of World Missions mem- 
bership, 74 

building of Garrison Boulevard 
church, 55, 61-70, 68 

call to First Presbyterian, 51—52 

centennial celebration, 104 

civic activity, 81—85 

death, 84-85 

Garrison Boulevard church dedi- 
cation, 84 

housing, 52 

Kennedy, John F., assassination 
eulogy, 83 

leisure activities, 79—80 

Marietta Street church departure, 

mission trip to Belgian Congo, 

73-78, 75, 77, PLATE 13 

move to Garrison Boulevard, 
70-72, 84 

new cars, 80-81 

prayer services, 78-79 

resignation, 84 

salary, 52 

staff, 52-53 

successor, 87 

views on social issues, 76, 81—85 
Moffett, Reverend Polk, 49 
Montreat, 40, 108, 172, 175 
Montreat College, 34 
Moore, Sandra, 154 
More, Elisabeth Love, 135 
Morris, Marti, plate 7 
Morris, Mrs. Woody, 68 
Morrow, Ben, 144, 171 
Morrow, Catherine, 41 
Morrow, Mrs. John, 5 
Morrow, Pat, 1—2, 102, 146, plate 4 

Moss, Charles, 44 

Moss, Fred, 44 

Moss, Mrs. Charles, 44 

Moss, Mrs. Fred, 44 

Mothers' Morning Out, 157 

Mountain View Chapel, 44 

Murphy, Mrs., 55 

Music, Worship, and the Arts 

Series, 174 
music programs, 44—45, 167-81 

carillon recitals, 177-78 

Cassavant Freres Limited organ, 
68-69, I 1 -! 7 -' z 68, 175 

children's choirs, 41, 168, 169, 178, 
plate 16 

choir loft, 168 

choir tours, 169 

Christmas programs, 170—72, 172 

commissioned works, 169, 177 

dedicatory organ recital at Garri- 
son Boulevard church, 71-72 

directors, 167-70, 178-79, 208 

under Dr. Stuart, 100 

First Church centennial celebra- 
tion, 104 

handbell choirs, 44—45, 169—70, 

hymnal decisions, 179—80 

Junior Choir, 41 

Kimball pipe organ, 175 

Madrigal Singers, 168 

Meet the Composer weekend, 169 

Memorial Carillon, 4, 18, 66, 72, 
81, 175-78, 176 

Moeller handpump organ, 174 

Music, Worship, and the Arts 
Series, 174 

Music and Worship Conference, 

organ concerts, 173-74 

organists, 172—74 

organ recordings, 177 

under Reverend Ellis, 39-44 

234 index 

"Ring and Sing" program, 169-70 
Sanctuary Choir, 168-72, 171, 178 
Schlicker chapel organ, 175 
singings at the Gordon home, 43, 

special musical offerings, 170—72, 


"Spring Ring" program, 170 

Steinway grand piano, 178 

youth choirs, 169, 170-72 

Myers, Teresa, 104 

Nason, Charles, plate 6 

National Presbyterian Church, 

nativity reenactment of 1996, 172 

Neal, Ann, 103 

Nelli, Emma, plate 7 

Nelson, Linda, 14$ 

Newcombe, Hannah, plate 7 

Newcombe, Jennifer, plate 7 

newsletters, 2, 43, 46 

Nicene Creed banner, 18$ 

Nielsen, Gunnar, 103-4 

Nielsen, Lisbet, 117, 119 

Nielson, Stephen, 170 

A Nite of Comedy, 104 

Noah, 103 

Noel, John, 174 

North Carolina Presbyterian news- 
paper, 4 

Nova Vocce ensemble, 174 

Oglesby, Dr. William, Jr., 104, 129 
Olney Presbyterian Church, 4, 5, 9, 

O'Neal, A. B., 101-2 
One Hundred Years of Cooking, 104, 

O'Neill, Hannah, plate 7 
organists, 172-74 
origins of First Presbyterian Church, 

4, 184 

Ormand, Mrs. James, 63, 117, 155 
"Our Fatherless Ones" pamphlet, 4 
outreach activities. See mission 

Overmyer, Reverend Joe, 158—59 
Owen, Cathy, 88 
Owen, Clara, 1/8 
Owens, Janie Kendrick, 56 
Owens, John Cleveland, Jr., 56 
Owens, Steve, 56, 151, plate 6 
Owensby, Susan, 154 
Owens family, 56 

Page, Anna Laura, 169 

Page, Ibby, 152, 158 

Page, J. E., ip 

Page family, 6 

Parks, Katherine, 154 

Parsons, Chris, 140 

Parsons, Laura, 157—58, 170 

Paschall, Anna, plate 7 

Patrick, Dr. W. M., 63 

Patrick, Mary Ann, 3, no, 152 

Patrick, Neale, 43, 43 

Patrick, Virginia, i$2 

Patrick family, 22 

Patterson, Annie L. P., 109 

Patterson, Mrs. E. L., yy 

Payne, Erica, plate 7 

Payne, Krista, plate 7 

Peabody, Kitty, 128 

Pearl Wilson Fund for Missions, 102 

Peck-Smead Company, 5 

Peden, Bennie, 113 

Peden, John, 79, 132 

Peek, Dr. Richard, 71-72, 175 

Pegram, David, 2, 133, 179 

Pegram, Mrs. T. C, 6 

Pegram, T. C, 6, 11, 20 

Pegram family, 6 

Perryman, Reverend Patrick, 129, 139, 

140, 146, 178, 179 
Pershing, John J., 34 

index 235 

Petit, Kim, 178 

Piedmont Chapel, 44, no 

Piedmont Council Scout Head- 
quarters, 149—51, I$0 

Piephoff, Reverend Zack, 123 

Pierce, Scott, 14$ 

Pinnix, R. H., 64, 68 

Pioneer Council Girl Scouts, 151 

Planer, Geof, 142 

Planer, Judith, 14$, ij$ 

pledge cards, 2 

Poag, Beverly, iyo 

Poag, Jim, ijo 

Pote, Allan, 169 

Pratt, Reverend Clyde, 163 


by Committee of History and 

Archives, 120 
by Dr. David C. Stoker, 147, 

by Dr. Donald Mitchell, 72 
by Dr. Douglas Aldrich, 22, 106 
by Dr. James G. Stuart, 16, 154 
by Dr. John DeBevoise, 136 
by Dr. Wilson P. Rhoton, Jr., 37 
by Hugh A. Query, 187-88 
bv Reverend Frank Mayes, 46—47, 

by Reverend John C. Pruitt, 
Presbvterian Church Foreign Mis- 

sions, 45 
Presbyterian Church USA Board of 

World Missions, 73-74 
Presbyterian Church USA 

(PCUSA), 105 
Presbyterian Endowment Trust 

(PET), 88, 100-103, J 35> J 4^ 
Presbyterian Junior College, 34 
Presbyterian School of Christian 

Education, 51 
Presbyterian Trotters, 103, 133, 134, 


Presbyterian Weekday School, 102, 

155-573 J 56> z 57> plate 15 
Presbyterian Women, 107 

blood drives, no 

congregational care, 108-9 

Honorary Life Memberships, 

honors and memorials, 109 

presidents, 210— 11 

See also women's activities 
Presbytery participants, 120 
presidents of women's organizations, 

Pritchett, Amelia, 178 
Professional Counseling Services, 

The Prophet and the Carpenter, 103 
Pruitt, Reverend John, ijp, 146, 

Puett, Corinne, 55 

Quarles, Bill, 160 

Quarles, Gordon, 144 

Quarles, William, Ij8 

Queens College, 34 

Query, Hugh A., 30, 49, 187-88 

Query, Mrs. Hugh, 25, 54, 55, 63 

race relations and civil rights, 76, 

81-85, 9 l ~9?-> 155 
Ragan, Caldwell, 21, 62 
Ragan, George W, 6, 14, 18—21, 20, 

28, 129 
Ragan, George W, Jr., 21 
Ragan, Lydia, 96 
Ragan, Mrs. Amanda Zoe, 20 
Ragan, Robert, 107-8 
Ragan, Susie, 129 
Ragan family, 6 
Ramseur, Mrs. Hubert, 108-9 
Rankin, Jane, 154 
Rankin, John R., 36 
Rankin, Lucille, 158-59 

236 INDEX 

Rankin family, 22 
Ratchford, David, 56, 98 
Ratchford, Fred A., 45, 62 
Ratchford, Joseph Fisher, 56 
Ratchford, Reverend Dr. Robert W., 

Ratchford, William C, 56, 105, 106 
Ratchford family, 6 
RatclifFe, Jere B., 149 
Rauch, Marshall, 59-60 
Ray family, 22 
Reagan, Ronald, 139 
Reese, Julia Kay, plate 7 
Reese, Katie, plate 7 
Reid, Lela Shuford, 107 
Reid, Ruth, 88 
religious education. See Christian 

Renfro, Anna, iyo 
retirement village. See Covenant 

Village project 
Rhinehart, Tori, plate 7 
Rhodes, Emily, plate 7 
Rhoton, Reverend Dr. Wilson R, 

Jr-, 37 
Rhyne, Mrs. Walter G., #, 63 
Rhyne family, 6 

Richards, Reverend Dr. C. M., 24 
Richardson, Dell, 154 
Rios, James, plate 6 
Roach, Sam, plate 6 
Roadrunners, 13s 
Roberts, Evan, ij8 
Roberts, Rebecca, 14$ 
Roberts, Ruby Lee, 123 
Robertson, Peggy, 14$ 
Robinson, Florence, 41 
Robinson, J. Lee, 6, 14, 20, 21 
Robinson, Leigh Ann, i$2 
Robinson, Mrs. Ralph, Sr., 63, 102 
Robinson, Mrs. S. A., 55 
Robinson, Nancy Dean McLean, 21 
Robinson, Ralph, Jr., 106, 115, 122, 140 

Robinson, Ralph S., Sr., 55—56, 57, 

62, 102 
Robinson, Reverend C. W, 7, 13, 

Robinson, Sally, 102, 146 
Robinson, Sue Gallant, 108 
Rogg, Lionel, 174 
Rollins, Lee, plate 6 
Romer, Mildred, 162 
Rotary Club, 35-36 
Rowley, Ben, plate 6 
Rowley, John, plate 6 
Royster, Annabelle and David, 133 
Rusk, Dean, 51 
Rutherford, Lori, plate 7 

sabbaticals, 29-34, 105—6, 129 
Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, 

Sampson, Reverend T. R., 107 
Sanctuary Choir. See music 

Schneider, Leon, 60 
Schroeder, Brian, 144, iji 
"Scottish Fantasy," 177 
scouting. See Boy Scout activities; 

Girl Scout activities 

/ Chronicles 13:8, 167 

Galatians 6:6, p, 10, 155 

Hebrew 12:1, xiii 

Isaiah 40:28-31, 183 

Isaiah 64:8, 87 

Jeremiah 6:16, v 

John 1:1—4, l 

Matthew 16:18, 49 

Matthew iy.20, 49 

Matthew 25:34— 36, 121 

Proverbs 8:14, 107 

Psalm 1:1, 3, 23 

Psalm 23:1, 121 

Psalm 84:1—2, 39 

Psalm 121:1, 2, 8, 73 



scriptures (continued) 
Psalm I2j:i, 17 
/ Timothy 4:12, 149 

Seekers Bible Class, up, 159 

Serving Our Community with Kind- 
ness in Springwood program, 127, 


of 1898, ip 
of 1902, 21 
of 2004, 144 
of 2005, 220 

Book of Church Order require- 
ments, 15, 143 
clerks, 205 

disciplining of congregants, 15—16 
under Dr. DeBevoise, 130 
under Dr. Stuart, 89 
hymnal decisions, 179-80 
integration resolution of 1963, 82 
Joy in the Morning service, 142—43 
oversight of Christian education, 


sabbatical gifts, 105—6, 129 

views on social issues, 128 

Vision 2000, 140 

women participants, 114— 15, 117 
Setzer, Wilson, 79 
Setziel, LeRoy, 67 
Shannon, J. R., 6, 11, ip 
Shannon family, 6 
Shaw, Dr. John and Mrs. Sharon, 111, 

Sherrill, Bill, iyo 
Sherron, John, 145 
Shields, Reverend Malcolm McG., 

13, H> 19 
Shive, L. Jerry, 62 
Shive, Verne, 44 
Shovelin, Julia, 152 
Shriver, Reverend Donald W., Jr., 

Siler, John, 173, ij$ 

Silvers, Beth, 159 
Sims, Jamie, plate 6 
Sims, Michael, plate 6 
Smith, B. E., jp 
Smith, Bobi, 752 
Smith, Brandon, plate 6 
Smith, Ella Reid, 12 
Smith, Elvira, 5 

Smith, Reverend Robert Perry, 1—2, 
7, 11-13, 13 

church history, 4-5 

cornerstone time capsule, 5-6 

Marietta Street building, 8, 11 
Smith family, 6 
Smyre, Alfred Monroe, 5, 11, 16, ip, 

21, 72, 92 
Smyre, Brownie, 152 
Smyre, F. L. "Rick," III, 92-94, 97 
Smyre, Frederick Lewis, Sr., 72 
Smyre, Fred L., Jr., 57, 62, 84 
Smyre, Mrs. Alfred Monroe, 6, 72, 

Smyre, Mrs. Frederick L., Sr., 62, 

Smyre, Sarah A., 5 
Smyre family, 6 

The Sound of Music, 103, plate 5 
Southern Presbyterian Church, 34 
South Fork River, 10-11 
Southminster Presbyterian Church, 

Sparrow, Clara Baity, 98 
Sparrow, W. R., 57, 63 
Spectrum, 98 

Spencer, Dr. Arthur, III, 98 
Spencer, Freda Goforth, 98 
Spencer, Gray, 98 
Spencer, Lee, plate 6 
Spencer, Marguerite, 151 
Spencer family, 6 
Spindles and Spires (Shriver), 82-83 
Stafford, Ring T., 146, 152 
Stell, Reverend Lawrence, 123 



Stephen Ministry of First Presbyte- 
rian Church, 135 
Stewart, Trip, 3, 98-99, 171, 178 
Stewart family, 22 
Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, 81 
Stoker, Reverend Dr. David, 1-2, 132, 
137-47- 138, 139, 144, 146 

background, 137-39, x 49 

call to First Presbyterian, 137, 

Christian education, 143—45 

Joy in the Morning service, 
142-43, 143, 184 

peacemaking trip to Jordan, 146 

prayers, 147, 164—65 

Vision 2000, 140-43 

youth ministry, 178 
Stone Soup (Brown), 116 
Stone Soup recipe, 116— 17 
Stover, Doug, 146 
Stover, Rob, 178 
Stover, Susan, 144 
Stowe, Betty Sloan, 158-59 
Stowe, Beverly, 102 
Stowe, Reverend Dr. Joe, 102, 125-26, 

126, 131 
Stuart, James Gordon "Jeb," Jr., 8p, 

90, 94-99 
Stuart, Katherine Elizabeth, 89, 90 
Stuart, Leslie Anne, 8p, 90 
Stuart, Mary Beth, 89, 90 
Stuart, Reverend Dr. James Gordon, 
87-106, 89 

background, 88-91 

call to First Presbyterian, 87 

chapel services, 91 

Children's Church/A Time for 
Young Disciples, 100, 101 

columbarium, 88 

congregation goal-setting activi- 
ties, 92-94, 99, 105 

Covenant Village project, 88, 89, 

Doctor of Ministry thesis, 88 

drama program, 100, 103-4, 
plate 5 

First Church centennial celebra- 
tion, 104-5 

guest at Kirkin' service, 132 

Intentional Christian Experience 
program, 89, 100 

leadership style, 88-89 

member assimilation classes, 92 

music program, 100 

nativity scenes, 104 

pastoral counseling training, 

prayers, 16, 154 

Presbyterian Endowment Trust, 
88, 100-103 

Professional Counseling Services 
program, 89 

retirement, 87, 105—6 

sabbaticals, 105—6 

successor, 122 

women's roles in the church lead- 
ership, 88, 115 

youth ministry, 88, 99-100 
Stuff 'n' Study program, 105, 168 
Styers, Helen, 178 
Sudderth, Pat, 103 
Sudduth, Barbara, i$2 
Sudduth, Roy, 44 
Summer, Tom, 2, 3, 4, 72 
Summerell, J. N., 114 
Summerell, Margaret Vaughn, 54, 57, 

62-63, 114, us 
Summerell family, 22 
Sumner, Beverly, 14$ 
Sumner, Carolyn Warren, 151 
Sumner, Elizabeth, 144, 146 
Sumner, Ernest, 178, plate 6 
Sumner, Harold, 97 
Sumner, Mary, 145 
Sumner, Robert E. Ill, 106 
Super Cupboard program, 126-27 



Susie and George W. Ragan Spiritual 

Enrichment Fund, 129 
Swilling, Charlene, iyi, 178 
Sytz, Parker, plate 6 

Talley, Nancy, 88 

Taylor, Cas, plate 4 

Taylor, Eubank, 52-53, 68 

Taylor, James, Jr., 18, i$o 

Taylor, Lee, 142-43, 144 

Taylor, Martha, 102 

Taylor, Reverend Reichardt, 45 

Taylor family, 22 

"Teach Me Lord," 178 

Temple Emmanuel, 59—60 

Templeton, Elmer, 175 

Templeton, John, 88 

Templeton, Mary Sexton Smyre, 175 

Third Street Presbyterian Church, 9, 

102, 145, plate 14 
Thomas, Alex, 178 
Thomas, Andre, 169 
Thomas, Sandy, 154 
Thompson, Landon, 87 
Thompson, Marshall, 57—58 
Thompson, Mary, 41 
Thompson, Nancy, 41 
Thompson family, 6 
Thrower, Elizabeth, 145 
Timberlake family, 22 
time capsule. See cornerstone time 

capsule of 1895 
A Time for Young Disciples, 100, 101 
timeline, 193—203 
Torrence, Charlton K., Jr., 3, 6, 7 
Torrence, Charlton K., Sr., 45, 62, 

123, 184-84 
Torrence, Frost, 6, 45 
Torrence, Jean Marie, 7, 114-15, 11$, 

Torrence, Marguerite Ring, 151, 152 
Torrence, Mary Elizabeth, 18 
Torrence, Mrs. Charlton K., Sr., 45 

Torrence, Mrs. Frost, 6, 45 

Torrence family, 22 

Torrence Fund, 102 

Tremble, Reverend and Mrs. U. T., 

Tucker, Phyllis, 113 
Tull, Susan, 154 
Turner, Patsy Bratton, 100 

unchurching of members, 15 

Union Presbyterian Church, 5, 9, 184 

Union Theological Seminary in New 

York, 82 
Union Theological Seminary in 

Richmond, 34, 36, 51, 83-84 
United Presbyterian Church 

(UPCUSA), 105 
Upchurch, Margaret Dunn, 123, 152, 

Upchurch, Peggy, i$2 

Vacation Bible School, $4, i$6, 157, 

Vance, BAnn, 152, iyi 
Vaughn, Anna, ij8 
Vaughn, Joseph, plate 6 
Vaughn, Michelle, plate 7 
Vaughn, Turner, plate 6 
Vienna Choir Boys, 174 
Vision 2000, 140—43 
Voorhees, Barbara, 1—2 

Waggoner, Lon, 144 

Wagoner, Harold, 57, 61-64, 67-71, 

Walker, Karen, 154 
Walker, Mary Olive, 43-44, 119, 151 
Walton, Jimmy, 41 
Walton, Peggy, 178 
Ward, Theresa, 41 
Warren, Edith, 167-68 
Warren, Myrtle, 158-59 
Warren family, 6 


war veterans, 18-19, 215-19 

Waters, Fred, 63 

Watson, Ann, 154 

Watson, Craig, 62, 80, 177 

Watson, Richard, 177 

Watson, Tom, i$o, 171 

Watson family, 22 

Watts, Coralie, plate 7 

Watts, Kenna, plate 7 

We All Are Barabas (Rachel Hender- 

lite), 36 
weddings, 42, $8, $9 
Weese, Carolyn, 140—42 
Weiss, Jeff, 169 
Wentz, Sarah, 128 

West Avenue Presbyterian Church, 21 
Westminster Choir College, 44 
Westminster Confession banner, 18$ 
Westminster League, no 
Weston, Brock, 1/8 
Wetzell, Billy, 150 
Wetzell, Blanche and Charles, 103 
Wetzell, Mary, 154 
Wetzell, Nan, 63, 155-57 
Wetzell, W L., Jr., 51-52 
Wetzell family, 22 
Whisnant, Howard, 130 
White, Burkie, jjj 
White family, 6 
Whitener, Lee, 154 
Wilds, Samuel, 164 
Wilkerson, Janice, 178-79 
Wilkie, Bruce, 88 
Wilkins, Mrs. John, 44 
Willcox, Iris, 14J 
Williams, Ali, 178 
Williams, Betty Ruth, 117 
Williams, Bill, 133 
Williams, Debbie, 154 
Williams, Holly, 88, 152 
Williams, Marjorie, 154 
Williams, Mary Lanier, plate 7 
Williams, Phil, 160 

Williams, Richard, 88 

Williamson, A. C, 11 

Williamson, Robert A., 20-21 

Williamson family, 6 

Williford, Wade, 44 

Willing Workers, no 

Wilson, Charles, 11 

Wilson, Dr. Dan, 132, 160 

Wilson, Ed, 14 

Wilson, Larry, 14$ 

Wilson, Mrs. T. L., 63 

Wilson, Pearl, 135 

Wilson, Penny, 126 

Wilson, Ross, 178 

Wilson, T. W, 6, 20 

Wilson family, 6 

Winget, A. K., 21 

Winget, Knox, III, 21 

Winget, Sarah, plate 7 

Winget, Shelton, plate 7 

Winget family, 22 

Wireman, Reverend Dr. Billy, 132 

Wise, Griffin, 178 

Wise, Whitner, plate 7 

Withers, Brendan, 178 

Women of the Church, 107 

Community Kindergarten, 113 

congregational care, 108-9 

Cooperative Christian Ministry, 

Crab Shrimp Casserole, 118 

Dinner Chimes, 117 

food and meals programs, 115— 16, 

Honorary Life Memberships, 
211— 14 

honors and memorials, 108-9 

hospitality activities, 118 

mission work, no— 13, 115— 16, 116 

officers, 108 

One Hundred Years of Cooking, 
104, 116-17 

Pastor's Aides, 53-54, 109 



Women of the Church (continued) 
prayer groups, 74-75 
presidents, 209-10 

women's activities, 107—20 
in 1895, 6 
blood drives, no 
Eunice Warren Bible Class, 114 
honorary life memberships of 

organizations, 211— 14 
Ladies' Aid Society, 107 
Ladies' Bible Class, 159, 161 
Ladies' Home and Foreign Mis- 
sion Society, 107, 109—10 
Ladies' Missionary Society, 6, 107 
leadership, 88, 107, 114-15, 117, 

Leadership Training School, 109 
presidents of organizations, 209-11 
Seekers Bible Class, up, 159 
sewing room, 113, 7/5 
See also Presbyterian Women; 
Women of the Church 

Women's Auxiliary of the Presbyte- 
rian Church in the United States, 

Wood, Alice, 41 

Woods, Vanna, 60 

Woody, Dr. Gene, 79 

Workman, Trigger, jp 

Worlds Fair of 1982, 103 

Wray, Mrs. Joe, 25 

Wren, Bob, 102 

Wren, William, i 7 8 

Wyche, Bill, 150 

Wynkoop, Daniel, 179 

Yarbrough, David, yp 

Yarbrough, Doris Ann, 41 

Yarbrough, Norma Jean, 41 

Young, Ovid, 170 

youth ministry, 162-63, plate 9 
Communicants Class of 1968, 88 
Communicants Class of 1975, p3 
Communicants Class of 2004, 1/8 
confirmation class, 175 
directors, 162—63, 2 °7 
Easter sunrise services, 162 
Intentional Christian Experience, 

100, 163 
Middle School Singers and Ring- 
ers, 170-72 
mission activities, 163 
under Reverend DeBevoise, 

under Reverend Ellis, 40-41, 43 
under Reverend Stuart, 88, 92, 

Senior High Beach Bash, plate 2 
Senior High Singers and Ringers, 

singings at the Gordon home, 43, 

Thursday breakfast and Bible 

study, 162-63, 163 
Young People's Council, 1954, 43 
See also children's activities 

Zeigler, Charles E., 177 
Zeigler, Dottie, 152 
Zeigler, Nancy, 88 
Zeigler family, 22 

242 INDEX 





' .v